You know what they say…The real question is – what to do?




JUST FIRE THEM!   Ok… Maybe not… 🙂 but you will really want to consider reform

According to a miniature survey conducted by yours truly, the workplace can either be classified as YIN, GRAY or YANG.  You either like, sometimes like or don’t like your work place. Most people surveyed tend to fall within the GRAY area.  The list of reasons why a person may not like their work environment can get quite lengthy, but a common ground that most people agree on is there is a bad apple in the bunch.  Most people will have changed their jobs at least 7-10 times during their lifetime, and I am certain you’ve met a bad apple or two.  You know the saying ‘One bad apple spoils the bunch”? It’s true!  It’s a contagious disease that spreads like wild fire.   Robert Sutton in How a Few Bad Apples Can Ruin Everything says that

“Having just a few nasty, lazy or incompetent characters around can ruin the performance of a team or an entire organization—no matter how stellar the other employees.”

While it may be great to give the shining stars within the workplace attention, it is even more important to give attention to the bad apples.  Research shows that having one bad apple or a slacker or downer in a group can decrease work productivity by 30-40% (W. Felps, Terrence R., Mitchell and Eliza Byington).  Employers who often turn the other cheek to these bad apples are said to be “setting the stage for even their most skilled people to fail.”

On the dull side, getting rid of a bad apple may not be as easy especially if the person is seen as a real asset to the company. In this case, more warnings, leniency or incentive may be provided to the bad apple; however, managers have to be careful because the bad overrides the good in most cases.  People are 5 times more likely to remember the bad, and are more likely to be less productive when a bad apple exists or if their team leader engages in such behavior.

So how can we make healthier work atmospheres for ourselves? Propose some changes to your employers

  • Avoid hiring bad apples in the first place — screen for bad apples by placing them under real circumstance (candidates come in for a day or two and is assigned a task).  This is great way to learn about technical skills as well as interpersonal skills and personality.
  • Include present employees in the hiring process.
  • Swiftly address the bad apple or permanently dismiss them.


How a Few Bad Apples Ruin Everything ~ Robert Sutton