Don’t let bad apples spoil your business team

Marcus Straub
Marcus Straub

The typical business features 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, impose a drag on the positive attitudes of others and, therefore, the business itself? Chances are, you’re thinking of these people right now.

In most cases, business owners tolerate them because it’s a hassle to hire and train new people, especially if “bad apples” are top performers, bring in large amounts of business, work in key positions essential to operational success or possess extensive or proprietary knowledge of the company. Under these circumstances, business owners often feel “held hostage” by these team members, which keeps them from taking necessary corrective action.

Given the amount of time, effort and expense involved in replacing team members, it’s no wonder negative attitudes are tolerated. Continuing to keep these individuals on board is not the best choice, however.

You’ve likely heard the saying, “Hire for skills and fire for attitude.” Simply put, this means bad attitudes far outweigh the technical skills people bring to their positions. And failing to take action puts a company at risk. It’s just too costly to keep them on.

Any business that has one or more bad apples must recognize there’s an awareness of these individuals throughout the company. Negative team members are difficult to work with, which damages team dynamics and morale. Other members of the team try to avoid them and could even harbor resentment toward managers and owners for allowing negative individuals to remain at work. If one of these bad apples happens to work 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 in which they feel their only option is to leave. A wise business owner will face the situation that comes with bad or negative attitudes and initiate corrective action.

You must free yourself from the belief your business can’t survive without these people. It’s simply is 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 them coaching and training to help them recognize and overcome their negative attitudes and damaging behaviors. Certified Behavioral Assessments offer an exceptional way to accomplish these goals because the assessments provide the unbiased clarity needed to achieve the most effective results.

While not an overnight process, a qualified coach or trainer can quickly identify a team member who’s willing to change. In cases in which affected team members choose to accept the information, do the work to change and overcome bad attitudes, they become assets rather than liabilities.

If they’re not willing or able to change their attitudes and behaviors, however, 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 of a negative influence.

When letting go and replacing team members, you must have a solid plan in place to avoid reproducing the same situation all over again. 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 of the acumen, behaviors, motivators, skills and talents  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 yourself to be held hostage by any team member. The overall 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 they are, can never be a part of that team.