You have likely heard the phrase "One bad apple spoils the whole bunch." That statement is not only scientifically true, but socially true as well. A rotten piece of fruit produces a substance called ethylene. When that rotten apple is in contact with other perfectly fine fruit, it causes the good fruit to ripen too quickly, produce ethylene and begin to rot as well.
This scientific phenomenon with fruit can easily be seen among a group of people such as work teams. It literally only takes one person with a nasty attitude and rotten behavior to negatively affect the rest of the team with which he or she works...and it doesn't take long to do it.
If you have a "bad apple" on your team, you must identify them immediately and take the appropriate actions to help them change their negative behavior or you will unfortunately have to remove them from the group, team or even the entire organization.
So, how do you identify such people? What are the behaviors and attitudes that they exhibit? Here are a few to watch out for:
1. Bullying behavior. This is especially concerning for people in a supervisory role. Such individuals are excessively critical of their subordinates and undermine the efforts of the team.
2. Rude behavior. The rotten behavior is exhibited by that person who is rude and disrespectful to others. This lack of courtesy and mutual respect causes those around them to feel unimportant and not part of the team.
3. Always requiring unrealistic expectations. This may be part of the bullying behavior where other's work is never good enough. When the work is in fact excellent, they take all the credit, but when it's less than perfect he/she berates the worker and belittles them, often threatening them with some negative consequence or being fired.
This behavior over a period of time will literally infect the rest of the team. Morale will drop. Few people will want to communicate or work with that individual. Others will begin to reflect the same negative behavior as the perpetrator and, at worst, those great employees who work with or for that negative individual will leave the organization, often never to be heard from again.
So, if you want to keep great talent, then you have to be willing to remove bad talent from the equation. Consider the fact that it's more beneficial to rid the organization of someone with this rotten attitude and behavior than to risk losing a slew of less talented people with great attitudes, high morale and a desire to constantly improve for a team win.
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Cynthia Murray is the founder and CEO of Cynthia Murray Enterprises, LLC. She is an international speaker, author, consultant/coach and attorney.