Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Corporate Bad Apples are Toxic and Cannot be Removed

There's always a bad apple wherever I have worked. I never understood the reason why they are never fired until the company has lost several of their good apples. In some rare cases, the bad apples even get promoted.

Whatever the case may be, I always stay professional and sincere. Perhaps this is the reason managers do not recognize them until it is too late, but managers need to understand the situation their direct reports will rarely say anything outright. Why? Because no one likes a tattle-tale plus we do not know what the situation is, perhaps there are other motives this person is on the team... perhaps he is related to someone higher-up. And when there are obvious violations that the manager has picked up on and no actions were enacted, we are even less likely to report other issues.

With a single bad apple, the manager now has lost a lot of respect from his direct reports. Especially if the manager enforced certain rules prior to the bad apple, then suddenly the bad apple gets called out but nothing happens. Even worse when new rules are enforced on the entire team because of the bad apple. Are we now treated like a second grade class? Besides now feeling belittled, we are even more disgruntled. Then to take it another level, manager says it is a corporate initiative but we all know none of the other groups are following it. Yet the bad apple continues to ignore the new rules yet the good apples have less flexibility because they are too afraid to go against the rules.

After a few weeks, others are now taking advantage of the lack of consequences. If he can get away from being late 30-60 minutes, we can be in late. What is the manager going to do? Fire him but not the bigger offender? He leaves early. Others start leaving early. So even if no one leaves, the team is now less motivated and less productive because a new status quo has been set.

Yet the manager continues to pretend that his direct reports are blind and deaf. How many offences can the bad apple do until something is done about it? In one case, the bad apple has never (not even once) come in on time... not even close to being on time even when working from home. Quality of work is not good. Clearly some excuses are lies. There is very little good qualities except being able to talk his way out of things. The clues could not be any more obvious to the point that it almost seems comical.

How can the manager possibly fire someone for lesser reasons? Yet good apples will slowly find new jobs or transfer to another group. The good apples will never say why except to say they have a better opportunity. Thus the average quality of the team will slowly decrease over time.

I have actually tried to say something once. After I quit (after giving them a 2 month notice) because nothing was done and more than half the team has left, the company finally decides to "force" the manager to quit. That's right... they didn't even have the nerve to fire. Then they have the nerve to ask me to do some "incomplete" work for free (they couldn't find a replacement even with a 2 month notice). By incomplete, they meant new requirements that they didn't specify while I was there. As upset as I was, I was still professional and provided a quote for the work. Didn't hear from them again. The irony of it all, they are considered one of the best places to work in the state. That just shows how rampant these issues are where companies with bad apples can still be considered for best places to work... or how rigged those awards are (did you know that companies have to pay to be considered a participant?).

The saddest part was probably that the rest of team was actually decent to work with. But as each good person left, that left more burden to those remaining making it easier and easier for others to go out the door. Until all you have left are those who cannot find another job.

A colleague that is a bad apple can be tolerable to work with at best. A manager that is a bad apple is a recipe for disaster for the group. There is no win situation for the direct reports. All paths are negative... be a tattle-tale then play a war of he-says-she-says and lose because you're lower on the totem pole or keep your mouth shut and have your career move backwards.

So the best solution is to just find another job quickly and burn no bridges. Lie how great it was to work there. Thank everyone for the wonderful experience. If managers cannot fire someone, they will unlikely be strong enough to promote you.... not matter how nice they are.

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