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Are “Bad Apples” Spoiling Your Business Operations? - Column #150

Marcus Straub

Marcus Straub

Most businesses employ 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 positive ways. But what about team members who have the skills to do their jobs, yet constitute a drag on the culture and, therefore, the business? Chances are, you’re thinking about those people right now.

Business owners tolerate “bad apples” because it’s expensive and time consuming to hire and train new people. This is especially true if these team members bring in large amounts of business, work in positions essential to operations 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.

You’ve probably 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 corrective action puts a company at risk.

Any business that has one bad apple or more must recognize there’s a heightened awareness of these individuals throughout the operation. Negative team members who are difficult to work with damage trust, communications, team dynamics, morale and results. Other members of the team avoid them and could even harbor resentment toward managers 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 in which they feel their only option is to leave.

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 is not the best choice, however. A wise business owner faces the situation that comes with bad or negative attitudes and initiates corrective action.

The first step is too 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. 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 development with a qualified professional to help them recognize and overcome their negative attitudes and damaging behaviors. High-quality assessments offer an exceptional tool toward accomplishing these goals because they provide the unbiased clarity needed for the development process.

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

If they’re not willing or able to change their bad 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 of and replacing team members, it’s wise to have a solid plan in place to avoid reproducing the situation. 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 or manager, you can’t afford to allow bad apples to spoil your culture, team and customers. 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, can never be a part of this equation.

Marcus Straub owns Life is Great! in Grand Junction. His personalized coaching and consulting services help individuals, business owners, executives and companies build teams, organizations and lives filled with happiness and success. Straub is the winner of the International Coach of the Year Award and author of “Is It Fun Being You?” He’s available for free consultations regarding coaching, speaking and trainings. Reach Straub at 208-3150, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or www.lifeisgreatcoaching.com.
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