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Increase Team Performance By 40%

INTERVIEW EDGE • JUNE 2015

photo of increased team performance

If you don't think a single lazy or incompetent employee can damage an entire organization, think again. Research conducted at several major universities shows that adding just one "bad apple" to a group can drive down performance by 30 to 40 percent, even when other employees are functioning at their peak.

Why? It turns out that a bad apple's destructive behavior is contagious—distracting and dragging down everyone else. Psychologists say that's because negative interactions have a far more profound and lasting effect than positive interactions do.

Bad apples aren't hard to spot. A recent study on team effectiveness defined "deadbeats" as withholders of effort; "downers" as those who express pessimism, anxiety, insecurity and irritation; and "jerks" as those who violate interpersonal norms of respect. Although picking bad apples is easy, getting rid of them may not be. It's better to avoid hiring them in the first place.

That's why Effective Interviewing!® is important to the health of an organization.

To avoid costly hiring mistakes, interviewers need to know how to elicit samples of past and present behavior. They also must understand how to phrase questions that can uncover potentially destructive attitudes in candidates.

A conversational interviewing style can encourage candidates to disclose negative experiences without putting them on the defensive. And asking solid follow-up questions about challenging situations can reveal negative thinking as well as repeated patterns of behavior. The evidence gathered from an effective interview can predict both future on-the-job behavior and on-the-job attitudes.

Thorough reference checking should also be part of the total interview and selection process. Every interviewer on the schedule should be required to complete a comprehensive evaluation form that highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate. If someone turns out to be a bad apple, the interview documentation should show what went wrong.

If your interviewers aren't providing this level of thorough and insightful information, it may be time to consider improving the interviewing and selection skills of your employees.

Ultimately, the costs of a bad hire go far beyond wasted investment in recruiting, hiring, and training someone who doesn’t work out. There are often far more damaging costs to team productivity and morale while the bad apple is still in the job.