Skills are necessary, but attitude is paramount

Marcus Straub
Marcus Straub

The typical business has a number of skilled team members, many with decent 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 job, are a drag on the positive attitudes of others and, therefore, the business itself? Chances are, you’re thinking of these people right now.

Any business that has a “bad apple” (or more) must recognize there’s an awareness of these individuals throughout the company. In most cases, business owners tolerate them because it’s a “hassle” to hire and train new people, especially if they’re top performers, bring in large amounts of business, hold key positions essential to operational success or their knowledge of the business is extensive or proprietary.

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, however, is not the best choice.

You’ve likely heard the saying, “Hire for skills and fire for attitude.” Simply put, this means negative or bad attitudes far outweigh the technical skills people bring to their positions. Failing to take action in regards to these individuals puts a company at risk.

It’s just too costly to keep them on.

Negative team members also prove difficult to work with, which damages team dynamics and morale. Other members of the team avoid them and could even harbor resentment toward management and owners for allowing negative individuals to stay 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 take time to develop. Given this, why would you ever knowingly create a situation where they feel their only option is to leave?

A wise business owner will face the situation and initiate corrective action.

To begin, 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. The outcomes have been nothing but positive for everyone involved.

If the team member in question is vital to your operation, start by offering him or her coaching and training to help recognize and overcome negative attitudes and damaging behaviors. By providing the clarity needed to achieve the most effective results, certified behavioral assessments offer an exceptional tool to accomplish these goals. 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, work to change and overcome bad attitudes, they become a true asset and not a continuing liability.

If they’re not willing or able to change their 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 of a negative influence.

When letting go of and replacing team members, you must 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 of the behaviors, motivators, acumen, talents 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 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 this equation.