How to Minimize the Damage of One Bad Apple

Adding one bad apple to a team has 4X as much negative impact on a team’s performance as adding good apples. (The Power of Bad)

The Big Five Personality Traits:

#1. Openness to experience.

  1. Tries new things.
  2. Is intellectually curious.
  3. Pursues creative ideas.

#2. Conscientiousness.

  1. Pursues achievement.
  2. Loves to finish things.
  3. Feels responsible to the team.
  4. Is organized and dependable.

#3. Extroversion.

  1. Talks and thinks at the same time.
  2. Is energized by social interactions.
  3. Is comfortable taking risks.

#4. Agreeableness.

  1. Is willing to set aside personal interests for the team.
  2. Enjoys harmony.
  3. Spends time helping others.

#5. Neuroticism.

  1. Leans toward depressed moods.
  2. Often feels anxiety, envy, anger, or guilt.
  3. Feels stress more frequently and deeply.

The Key Three:

The best team members are highly conscientious, agreeable, and low on neuroticism.

You might have a team member who is highly agreeable but not conscientious. They drop the ball because they can’t say no.

On the other hand, you might have a highly disagreeable but conscientious person. This person gets things done but doesn’t help others.

The strongest predictor of team performance is the bad apple, not the average of all the apples on the team. One neurotic team member has more negative impact than a group of optimistic team members, for example.

5 tips for dealing with toxic teammates:

  1. Work to understand them.
  2. Provide direct feedback.
  3. Accept that they may not change.
  4. Minimize their exposure to others.
  5. Spend time with good apples. (as much as possible.)

Think of some of the best teammates you have worked with. What were they like?

How might leaders minimize the damage of bad apples on the team?


How to Breathe Vitality into any Team.

The Big Five Personality Test is one way to identify a good apple.

10 Strategies for Dealing with a Toxic Teammate (Leadership Freak)

Big Five Personality Traits (Psychology Today)

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