4 Steps to Dealing with a Bad Egg on the Team
If bad is 5X stronger than good, eliminating bad does a lot of good.
“[Will] Felps estimates that teams with just one deadbeat, downer, or asshole suffer a performance disadvantage of 30 to 40 percent compared to teams that have no bad apples.” (Bob Sutton in Good Boss Bad Boss.)
4 Steps to dealing with a bad egg on the team*:
Step 1: Provide feedback
Bad eggs may not appreciate how they drain and diminish others.
Follow three steps to give feedback that strengthens relationships.
#1. Seek to understand them and then provide descriptive feedback.
- Describe the behavior.
- Avoid making it personal.
- Identify elements in the behavior that can be confirmed by someone else.
- Avoid evaluative statements. “You’re wrong,” for example.
#2. Describe your reaction (other’s reaction) or consequences of the negative behavior.
#3. Suggest an alternative.
If step 1 doesn’t help, move to step two.
Step 2: Provide positive intervention.
- Offer coaching, mentoring, or training.
- Create a development plan.
Encourage and teach people how to add value instead of diminishing other people.
If steps 1 and 2 don’t help, move to step three.
Step 3: Isolate the bad egg.
Some obstinate bad eggs add value. Then what?
“Stage 3 suggests that, figuratively speaking, the microphone is taken out of their hands, their opportunities for interaction are markedly reduced, and the negative virus is isolated.” Kim Cameron
Step 4: Let them flourish somewhere else.
Always seek the best interest of everyone. There are no exceptions to the previous statement. When you manage someone out, it’s for their good and the organization’s good.
It’s never appropriate to seek the worst interest of others.
Kim points out that Steps 1 through 3 come before step 4.
*Adapted from, “Positively Energizing Leadership,” by Kim Cameron
Kim Cameron explains 4 steps for dealing with bad eggs:
What’s the worst way to deal with bad eggs on the team?
How might leaders deal with bad eggs on the team?
Click here and leave a comment to win a copy of Kim’s book, “Positively Energizing Leadership.” (Deadline 8/07/2021)
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There is an option 5. When the bad egg is related to the owner (Number 1 egg), it might be time to find a culture more compatible with your values. All the coaching, intervention, isolation will not be successful if they have a “Teflon” family relationship. You will always be the outsider — and you don’t have to live with the consequences at Thanksgiving dinner, etc., whereas the number 1 egg will.
Thanks Anonymous. Family run businesses have some special challenges.
You are exactly right. Thanks for adding option 5.
Oh yes the Foodchain, who butters your bread? There seems to be catch 22 in many aspects of “Bad eggs”. If they egg is rotten it needs to go. If the egg is sof then we can scramble it a bity and create a working scenario. If the egg is hard boiled then you have your challenges they can be a tough egg to crack, see out the weakspot in the egg, peel the shell and get to the core and build out. Bring them out of their shell expose the core and lift them up to the working level. Many things we see can be groomed unless they are rotten. Happy Friday…. Cheers
Thanks for a fun comment. Your creative juices are flowing today.
How might leaders deal with bad eggs on the team?
1. Describe your observations of their behavior.
2. Describe the consequences of their behavior.
3. See if they agree. If they don’t agree what’s their explanation. They may see things in a totally different way. Then discuss what actions are necessary for them to fully understand the impact of their behavior. Emphasize the business consequences of their behavior.
4. Once they accept the problem, discuss options. It is always helpful when they come up with their own solution. In some cases you need to tell them the changes they must make.
5. Ask them how you can help.
6. Monitor new behaviors and reinforce and encourage as appropriate.
7. If changes don’t occur, engage in disciplinary steps –verbal warning, written warning etc.
Thanks Paul. So glad you fleshed out some of these ideas. The addition of “see if they agree.” is useful and important.
No question, mission failure cannot and should not be allowed to continue for long. There may be exceptions such as a very racist boss turning a high-performing team member into what may be a bad egg by constantly criticizing and insulting no matter what s/he accomplished and contributions made to team success. We cannot ignore real, genuine medical issues either. As long as the second level manager enables such behavior, the situation will continue. So, it is important to analyze the situation carefully and without any biases to find the root cause and work towards isolating, separating, or removing it; all of it by focusing only on the team and organizational mission. Without it, we may fall into what Plato said, “Doing injustice is more disgraceful than suffering from it”.
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Hire slowly, fire quickly…. Good egg turns bad – sure, work through a solid process or system… no change..? (cuz they can’t or won’t), relocating/isolating them just moves the cancer someplace else within the organization. Re-locate them to the exit door. Re-assess your hiring practices and professional development system ….
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Good article, unfortunately I can’t share it because of the language in the second paragraph. Let’s be better than that. Thank you.
This would have been a great article to share with my leaders, but the curse words make that impossible.