Just one “bad apple” can hurt your business culture

Marcus Straub

Marcus Straub

You’ve likely heard the saying, “Hire for skills and fire for attitude.” Simply put, this means bad attitudes far outweigh the skills people bring to their positions. Failing to take action puts companies at risk.

The typical business has a number of skilled team members, many with decent and even great attitudes. These individuals come to work, perform their jobs to a satisfactory level or above and contribute to the work environment in mostly positive ways. But what about those team members who, even though they have the skills to do their jobs, constitute a drag on the culture and, therefore, the business itself? Chances are, you’re thinking of these people right now.

In most cases, business owners tolerate “bad apples” — especially if they’re top performers, bring in large amounts of business, occupy key positions essential to operations or possess extensive or proprietary knowledge of the business. Under these circumstances, business owners often feel held hostage by these team members, which keeps owners from taking necessary corrective action.

Given the amount of time, effort and expense involved in replacing team members, it’s not surprising negative attitudes are tolerated. Keeping these individuals on board isn’t the best choice, however.

Any business owner who has a bad apple or more must recognize there’s an awareness of these individuals throughout the company. Negative team members are difficult to work with, which damages communications, team dynamics, morale and results. Other members of the team avoid them and could even harbor resentment toward management and owners for allowing negative individuals to remain in the business. If one of these bad apples happens to be in a management position, the consequences are even more severe.

Wherever they are in your company, negative attitudes will end up costing you top talent. Your best people will only put up with so much before they can’t take it anymore. As you already know, top talent can be difficult to find and develop. Given this reality, it’s never a good choice to knowingly create a situation where they feel their only option is to leave.

A wise business owner will face the situation that comes with bad attitudes and initiate corrective action.

The first step is to free yourself from the belief your business can’t survive without these people. It’s simply not true. Time and time again I’ve helped business owners release this limiting mindset, and the outcomes have been nothing but positive for everyone involved.

If the team member in question is vital to your operation, start by offering professional development to help him or her recognize and overcome  negative attitudes and damaging behaviors. Certified behavioral assessments offer an exceptional tool toward accomplishing these goals because they provide the unbiased clarity needed to achieve desired results.

While not an overnight process, a qualified professional development coach can quickly identify a team member who’s willing to change. In cases where affected team members accept the information and work to change and manage their attitudes, they become assets rather than a continuing liability.

If they’re not willing or able to change their bad attitudes and behaviors, the next step is an obvious one: You must step up to the plate and let them go. The moment you take this corrective action, your business and everyone within it will be freed from the negative influence.

When replacing team members, it’s wise to have a solid plan in place to avoid reproducing the same situations. The best course of action is to work with a qualified professional who can create a job benchmark for the position and accurately measure all the behaviors, motivators, acumen and skills necessary for success. This sophisticated and statistically accurate hiring practice will ensure you invite the best people and attitudes into your company. 

As a business owner, you can’t afford to allow bad apples to hurt your culture, team and customers. The costs to your business are far too high. One of the fundamental secrets to success is to build the most powerful team you can. Individuals with negative attitudes, no matter how skilled, can never be a part of this team.

Marcus Straub owns Life is Great! Inc. in Grand Junction. His personalized coaching and consulting services help individuals, business owners, executives and companies build teams, organizations and lives that are filled with happiness and success. He is the winner of the 2011 International Coach of the Year Award, and is also the author of “Is It Fun Being You?.” He is available for free consultations regarding coaching, speaking and trainings. Reach Straub by phone at 208-3150, by e-mail at marcus@lifeisgreatcoaching.com or on the website at www.lifeisgreatcoaching.com.
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Posted by on Oct 4 2016. Filed under Contributors. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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