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Rotten Attitudes In The Workplace

Friday, March 27, 2009 by Slaughter Development

To many of us, the saying “one bad apple ruins a bunch” conjures up memories of overbearing lectures we received as children. But how true is this statement in the adult world of work?  According to one source, “bad apples” an the office can slow down productivity, diminish creativity and prevent successful completion of projects.

In the article “The Bad Apple: Group Poison,”  Jeff Atwood discusses a study set up to test the theory of “bad apples.” In short, college students were divided into groups of four and asked to successfully complete a project. Unknown to the students, conductors of the study planted actors in some of the teams to represent difficult personality types that inhibit productivity. They discovered:

Groups with bad apples performed 30 to 40 percent worse than other groups. On teams with the bad apple, people would argue and fight, they didn’t share relevant information, they communicated less.


Other team members began to take on the bad apple’s characteristics. And they wouldn’t act this way just in response to the bad apple. They’d act this way to each other, in sort of a spillover effect.

In the end, the conclusion made:

It doesn’t matter how great the best member is, or what the average member of the group is like. It all comes down to what your worst team member is like. The teams with the worst person performed the poorest.

Besides the obvious fact that “bad apples” deteriorate group cohesiveness, they also carry negative traits that hinder task completion, stagnate motivation and diminish career development. Businesses that employ individuals who rarely meet standard of quality may find themselves at an impasse. The ultimate price of a rotten attitude at work is dissatisfaction and failure.

Though Slaughter Development does not write job descriptions or help with employee interviews, we do focus on assisting companies in creating efficient workflow processes that improve productivity and help maintain avenues of achievement. Our aim is to also bring satisfaction to stakeholders as job contentment enables company success. As the article states, great leadership can be the salvation to poor employee contribution. If your company lacks proper leadership when it comes to fulfilling project objectives or needs to redesign a faulty process, contact us today.

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