How to spot toxic employees before they destroy your business

If you’re familiar with the Hatch Institute or our previous business, Sorbet, you’ll know that we believe the cornerstone of a successful business is building a rainbow community. This is the foundation of our CultureneeringTM philosophy and business framework.


The biggest threat to the rainbow community is the ‘I specialist’.


‘I specialists’ suffer from rugged individualism. They are the product of greed, which erodes all efforts to create a society where there is an equitable sharing of wealth.


This behaviour achieves only one thing: it leaves a path of destruction in its wake.


Laying the right foundations


An ‘I specialist’ is someone who has a negative attitude towards the business as a whole and in our experience, there is nothing you can do to change their way of thinking.


They will always focus on themselves. If you believe in community, you need to think of the business as your home and not just your workplace – an ‘I specialist’ cannot do this.


When we started Sorbet, I personally handled every induction of new employees – or citizens who joined our community. As the business grew, this was one area I never handed over to anyone else. I believed it was critical to our culture and building and maintaining our Higher Purpose.


We gave our culture a name – the Soul of Sorbet – and it was important to lay the right foundations from each new citizen’s first interaction with our business and community. More importantly, we wanted each citizen to understand what an ‘I specialist’ was, and why there was no room for ‘I specialists’ in Sorbet.

It’s important to note that there can be transformations – some people will stand up, having realized they were I specialists, and commit to making a change. Others cannot do this. If you are clear about your expectations, these individuals will usually leave your organization fairly quickly, as there is clearly a culture mis-match. 


Spotting an ‘I specialist’


Here’s what ‘I specialists’ look like, how they impact the business, and how they compare to individuals who are citizens in a community that shares a common goal and Higher Purpose.



The Sorbet Soul The I Specialist
Places service before self interest Places self-interest before service
Shares knowledge with her fellow citizens to help them improve their skills and their contribution to wealth creation Protects knowledge from her fellow citizens in case they take business from her.
The purpose of work is to touch the lives of others; the essence of higher purpose The purpose of work is to enrich herself at the expense of others
Shares guests with fellow citizens to spread the wealth in the community Wants to own the guests to maximise her earnings
Tolerant of diverse cultures; accepts and respects those who are different to her Intolerant of diverse cultures; disrespects those who are different to her
Is paradigm flexible; displays an openness to change Is paradigm paralysed; fixated by her own paradigms and completely rejects change
Welcomes training and development; embraces learning and has a quest for knowledge as she knows it will improve her ability to touch lives Believes she knows everything and rejects any training as it takes her out of the salon and denies her the opportunity to earn commission that day.



The Lesson: business leaders tend to accept ‘I specialists’ if they are big earners, not understanding how they are eroding the company’s culture. Don’t be conned into believing that an I Specialist who generates high turnover is irreplaceable. Prioritise the spirit of the community – no matter how much money they bring in.

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