by Jim Fausone
Here at Fausone-Bohn, LLP, we represent a lot of small business owners. As a group they are thoughtful, compassionate and dedicated. Often they cannot understand why a particular employee is not also dedicated to the job. There are plenty of studies that a bad apple ruins the barrel. In referring to employees a recent Wall Street Journal article was titled “How a Few Bad Apples Ruin Everything.” It is suggested by the academics that “having just one slacker or jerk in a group can bring down performance by 30% to 40%.” To stop bad behavior it is not enough to talk about or model good behavior. It is necessary to “censure bad behavior” according to Wharton operations and information management professor Maurice E. Schweitzer.
In the WSJ article Robert Sutton, a professor at Stanford University, states that bad apples are “remarkably contagious,” and that leaders who ignore the fact that certain employees are rude, lazy or incompetent “are setting the stage for even their most skilled people to fail.” As business lawyers we are often asked to give advice on employment problems. It may seem harsh, but discipline and termination of the bad apple is often the best advice. Owners, and even lawyers, have compassion for their employees and their families. But feeling bad about having to discipline or terminate a bad apple is detrimental to the company. By reading the Wharton article or the WSJ article you may feel more comfortable that you are doing the right thing for you, your company, and its employees.