With Halloween just around the corner, business leaders are reminded of the importance of shielding their teams from one of the spookiest characters that can infiltrate an organization: Team Vampires. This is a title I’ve coined over the last two decades in the team building space for team members who perpetuate negativity in the workplace.

When negativity becomes a habit, it affects productivity and profitability, leading to increased turnover, lateness, absenteeism, customer complaints, errors, accidents, and illness. By being proactive, you can help the perpetrators of negativity change their behavior. Here’s 5 ways to protect against these creepy counterparts:

  1. Look Them In The Eye

Looking a real vampire in the eyes is dangerous business and can cause you to fall under their spell. However, the only way to deal with a team vampire is to do so face to face. Negative behavior from one person can spread like a virus, drain enthusiasm from the rest of the team and impact your bottom-line. As a leader, your job is to make sure this doesn’t happen. Find a nonconfrontational way to approach the team vampire and have an honest conversation with them. Make sure it’s two sided and be sure to ask them for their candid thoughts. Chances are that a transparent dialogue will awaken them from their dark trance.

  1. Show Them Their Reflection

But real vampires don’t have reflections, you say. While it’s true that the undead can’t look themselves in the mirror and contemplate their bloodsucking ways, you can prompt team vampires to do some self reflection. One of the scariest things about a team vampire is their proclivity to turn others in your organization by manipulating them through gossip or other harmful behavior. You can prevent this from happening by sitting down with this person at the first sign that they might be up to no good. There’s many ways to approach difficult conversations with employees, but when you do it forces them to look themselves in the mirror and evaluate their behavior.

  1. Invite Them Into Your Home

Again, if this was a real vampire, you would do everything in your power to keep them out of your house. But in the workplace, one of the worst things you can do is create an environment that is non-inclusive. When people are excluded they develop negative feelings towards others. Obviously, this can harm collaboration and cohesion amongst teams and lead to bigger problems down the road. Whether its day-to-day, or through regular team building exercises, work on creating an environment where every member of your team is connected and feels like they belong.

  1. Acknowledge Their Wisdom

Often times, team vampires are those that join your company after many years spent in other organizations. Like real vampires, they think they’ve seen it all and know it all too. By the time they arrive in your organization, they’ve developed immutable views or habits that don’t always jive with your way of doing things. This can lead to confrontation, disagreements and overall disfunction. The best way to deal with this type of vampire is to validate their wisdom and acknowledge their experience but make it clear that your organization is different from any they’ve been in before. If this type of team vampire wants to work in your organization they need to know that they have to make certain concessions and get on the same page as everyone else. Getting employees to buy into your vision is important for any business leader, but especially so when there’s a team vampire in the midst.

  1. If All Else Fails, Pull Out The Wooden Stake

Sometimes a team vampire will be so caustic and negative that there is very little chance of engaging them positively. If you’ve tried all of the above and your team vampire is showing little to no sign of changing their toxic ways, the only thing left to do is to let them fly away. You can’t afford to waste time and energy on trying to correct the behavior of someone who isn’t willing to do what it takes to be a healthy part of your team. You’ll know whether or not a team vampire is willing to see the light or if they are destined to live in the shadows, feeding off the energy of others. If it’s the latter, it’s time to use the proverbial wooden stake and let them go.

Read more: The Social Vampire Survival Guide