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December 10, 2013 | By

How to deal with the bad apples on your team

By Veronica Puailoa

Everyone’s been there ‒ working on a team that has a negative vibe and isn’t productive. Sometimes it’s the result of the classic bad apple. The “bad apple” may be productive, but their toxic attitude makes everyone else around them miserable, and the entire team becomes unproductive.

Can one bad apple spoil the whole bunch? Photo courtesy of ABigCat and Flickr.
Can one bad apple spoil the whole bunch? Photo courtesy of ABigCat and Flickr.

According to Paul Glen, author of Leading Geeks, “how you deal with a bad apple will send a message to the rest of your support team.”

Depending on why the individual apple is rotten, there are two basic and fundamental courses of action.

It’s situational:
– Try placing them in a role that better fits their talents
– Assign them to a different project
– Isolate their work from other members on the team
– Physically isolate their presence on the team to decrease interaction

It’s in their nature, which means you might have to fire them, because they are:
– Ill-equipped for their current position
– Difficult to work with
– Unable to change

Very bad apples! Photo courtesy of Angels Watford and Flickr
Very bad apples! Photo courtesy of Angels Watford and Flickr

No matter whether you fire them or reorganize the group, the team will judge your action. So, decide and act carefully. If you deal with the rotten apple too leniently, team members may take that as a sign that they can get away unprofessional, disruptive behavior too. And it may also signal that no one is willing to make tough decisions and stand up for the team to protect productivity and professionalism. It’s in the best interest of the entire team to properly handle bad apples.

For more insight into how to deal with a toxic team, check out Paul’s paper Toxic Teams: Four Steps to Transforming Dysfunctional Teams.

 

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