You’ve probably heard the saying: “Hire for skills and fire for attitude.” This means bad attitudes far outweigh the skills people bring to their positions. Failing to take corrective action puts a company at risk.
Most businesses have a number of skilled team members, many with decent and even great attitudes. They come to work, perform their jobs to a satisfactory or higher level and contribute to the work environment in positive ways. But what about those team members who, even though they have the skills to do their jobs, damage culture, morale and business operations through their bad attitudes? Chances are, you’re thinking of these people right now.
In many cases, business owners and managers tolerate so-called bad apple 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 key positions essential to operations or their knowledge of the business is extensive or proprietary. Under these circumstances, business leaders often feel held hostage by these team members which, unfortunately, keeps them from taking necessary corrective action.
Business owners and managers with one or more bad apples must recognize there’s a heightened awareness of these individuals throughout the company. Negative team members are difficult to work with, which damages communications, morale, team dynamics, trust and ultimately results. Other teams members avoid them and could even harbor resentment toward owners and managers for allowing negative individuals to remain in the business. If one of these bad apples happens to hold a management position, the consequences are even more severe.
Wherever they are in your company, bad attitudes will cost you talent. Your best people will only put up with so much before they can’t take it anymore and leave. Others in the organization could fall under the influence of a bad apple, putting your customer service, culture and success at risk. These infected team members will spread the subversive message and attitudes, deepening the dysfunction.
Keeping these individuals on board isn’t the best choice. Wise business owners and managers face the situation that comes with bad attitudes and initiate corrective action sooner rather than later.
The first step is to free yourself from the belief your business can’t survive without these people. It isn’t 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, initiate corrective action by presenting them with a performance improvement plan and offering them professional development with a qualified professional to help them recognize, address and overcome their negative attitudes and damaging behaviors.
While not an overnight process, a qualified professional development coach can quickly identify a team member who’s willing to change. When team members accept the information and work to change their attitudes, they become true assets rather than continuing liabilities. If, however, they’re unwilling or unable to change their bad attitudes and behaviors, 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 put a plan in place to avoid reproducing the same situations. Work with a qualified professional who can assist you in creating a job benchmark for the position and provide insight into the attitudes and skills of your candidates. When you hire for attitude first, you can teach skills if needed. When you encounter a candidate with both, you have a solid hire.
As a business owner or manager, you can’t afford to allow bad apples to harm your culture, customers and team. The costs are too high.
One of the fundamental secrets to success is to build the most powerful team you can. Individuals with bad attitudes, no matter how skilled they are, can never be a part of this winning team.
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This article was written for and published in collaboration with The Business Times newspaper. Access the article here.