“Bad Apples” Tend to Spoil Entire Corporate Culture

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<p><strong>Pittsburgh &mdash; March 26</strong><br />Every organization has at least one: That employee, who for whatever reason, behaves as though coming to work is a fate worse than death. </p><p>They are your company&#39;s &quot;bad apples,&quot; And Joanne G. Sujansky, Ph.D., CSP, founder and president of KEYGroup, warns that if you want to keep them from spoiling the whole barrel, you&#39;ve got your work cut out for you. <br /><br />She cites a recent study &mdash; conducted by William Felps, a doctoral student at the University of Washington Business School, and Terrence Mitchell, a professor of management and organization at the UW Business School and a UW psychology professor, and published in Research in Organizational Behavior &mdash; that explores just how much damage one bad apple can do.<br /><br />&quot;This study takes an interesting look at a problem that is all too prevalent in corporate America,&quot; Sujansky said. &quot;The authors point out that it&#39;s likely that your bad apples are harming your other employees&#39; morale, which can lead to an overall team breakdown. </p><p>&quot;When bad apples are present, people aren&#39;t as willing to handle problems that arise, don&#39;t foster open communication with one another and generally stop functioning as a team &mdash; not a great recipe for high performance and productivity.&quot;<br /><br />Managers should make dealing with bad apples a top priority, but as Sujansky points out, doing so is no easy (or welcome) task. </p><p>After all, managers are only human, and bad apples have a tendency to be just as draining for them as they are for everyone else in the company. </p><p>In fact, many managers don&#39;t know how to even begin dealing with these problematic employees.<br /><br />&quot;It&#39;s been our experience that bad apples usually comprise only a small percentage of an organization,&quot; Sujansky said. &quot;But because they require more effort to handle than other employees, it&#39;s not uncommon for managers to spend a great deal of their time dealing with or listening to the bad apple&#39;s various concerns or complaints or the complaints they receive from other employees about the bad apple. </p><p>&quot;Clearly, managers need to think about the illogic of such an efforts-to-results ratio.&quot;<br /><br />If managers don&#39;t deal with their bad apples, their &quot;spoiling&quot; effects will only multiply. The first step, though, is understanding just what makes these employees so incredibly difficult to handle.<br /><br />&quot;Another important point the study makes is that companies can avoid the bad apple disease altogether,&quot; Sujansky said. &quot;I wholeheartedly agree, and in fact, this is a topic KEYGroup constantly addresses with our clients. </p><p>&quot;Success lies in fail-safing your hiring practices. Hire for talent and values and character, not just for skill sets. You can teach people the skills they need, but you can&#39;t always teach work ethic or integrity or respect.&quot; </p>

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