One Bad Apple

One bad apple does ruin it all.

How do you handle that one person who ruins the whole bunch?

You love your job, your team, your culture and are fully aligned to the mission. But what happens when you have an outlier who is dismissive of that mission, the values and generally works against the culture and the goals of the organisation?

You’re busting your butt while your colleague streams 6 hours of Disney during working hours. You stick to your times because you have a great work ethic yet they do whatever they like whenever they want.

They are constantly talking on top of you because what they have to say is far more important than anything or anyone else.

Or they are one of those people who know absolutely everything about everything – including how best to do your job – and they show it and deliver it in a way that is rude, abrasive or undermining.

Unfortunately in a lot of cases our leaders (and maybe even us to a certain extent) have a high tolerance for mediocrity and behaviour contrary to the values.

I’ve seen examples of companies with Respect as a value – yet the bad apple doesn’t respect people, process, structure or culture.

And Honesty – but the bad apple’s allowed to do what they like and the culture encourages people to hide away, not speak up.

Not managing this has a major damaging and detrimental affect on:

  • Culture
  • Productivity
  • And most importantly – the mental health and wellbeing of the person on the receiving end of the behaviour by the bad apple

These issues must be addressed, and must be stamped out.

But how?

I always go for constructive confrontation the first time round. It’s so empowering to address these issues directly and furthermore it often puts them to bed pretty swiftly. It’s a growth opportunity and it takes courage to broach these subjects, especially if the person you’re approaching isn’t approachable or receptive to feedback.

But it can only truly be done with the backing of the leaders.

Because if your leaders are aware of, and tolerate this behaviour, it’s tantamount to endorsement and acceptable behaviour.

An amazing friend (and safety consultant) of mine has the motto “The standard you choose to walk past is the standard you choose to accept”.

This is absolutely true — for physical and psychological safety.

Is that the kind of culture you want to work in? Is that the kind of culture you want to lead?

In my book, I discuss perception being reality (see HR Hot Tip #36) and the importance of manners (see HR Hot Tip #44) and the positive impact of smiling (see HR Hot Tip #61).

All of the above lead to a positive culture and, if the bad apples adopt these behaviours, they will develop into ripe, juicy apples and transform your culture.

But, if the strategies you try don’t work, and your leaders do not address the behaviours, you need to make a decision for yourself to move on. That in itself is empowering.


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