How much negative impact can bad apples in your organization have? Is having no bad employees a realistic goal?
First things first: What are bad employees? Are they employees who are bad at their job, take too much time off, or have a penchant for punching other employees?
While none of these traits are ideal, they all focus on specific actions rather than the root of the problem.
Instead of trying to create a comprehensive list of “Dos and Don’ts” which your employees may ignore, start at the foundation: your core values.
A bad employee is anyone who does not love—and live—your company's core values.
Discovering your core values is an action in-and-of itself, but once you have a set of rules to run your company by, you will find that the people who align with those rules don’t tend to violate them.
Luckily, you have the keys to the happy employee kingdom. Here are three steps to protect your organization from the wrong employees:
- Stop them from showing up.
- Stop them from getting in.
- Stop them from sticking around.
Step No. 1 - Stop Bad Employees From Showing Up
Pre-framing is extremely important when weeding out potential problem employees. How an employee is first exposed to your company is key. Consider the following two scenarios:
- A current employee tells his friend, a prospective employee, “You should apply at my company; the place is so disorganized, we could get away with
- A prospective employee comes across your website and thinks, “These are my people! I love what they are all about. I wonder if they are hiring…”
When you feature enough of your core values on your website, in your hiring ads, and your current employees become evangelists for your mission, you position your company as the right place for the right employee. No matter how prospective employees become aware of your company, they feel like they have finally found their tribe. This alone will dramatically increase the quality of your applicant pool.
Step No. 2 - Stop the Wrong Employees From Getting In
Once you have laid the foundation in step one, the job of keeping bad employees from infiltrating your organization is half done. All you have to do is make sure your company is actually living and breathing the core values that brought prospective employees to you in the first place.
During interviews, many employers focus on job history and/or technical ability. Both offer good insight but are only relevant with employees who have the same core beliefs as you do. Hire for attitude; train for skill.
If your company is passionate about outstanding customer service, it is eminently possible to teach an employee how to serve a customer. It is a fool’s errand to teach him to be enthusiastic about customer service itself. Your life and profitability will improve exponentially when you are in the business of stoking your employees’ passions and values. You are not in the business of convincing people to do something they don’t want to do or believe something they don’t want to believe.
Craft your interview process around the values that attracted your prospective employees. Once that is a match, job history and ability to do the job at hand come into play. An unintended consequence of passionately living your organization's core values is the creation of an extremely attractive community, which can make it even harder for employees who aren’t a good fit to get in. Therefore, make sure pre-framing and a core values-based interview process are in place.
Step No. 3 - Get Problem Employees Out
Creating a core values-driven culture not only naturally repels the wrong employees, it strongly attracts the right employees. They feel at home, like they have found something special. They don’t want to leave. They stay longer, work harder, and enjoy their jobs more.
The flip side is that people who are not a core-value fit feel out of place. They don’t fit in. They don’t understand why everyone acts so differently. They discover that the amazing community that attracted them to your company isn’t for them. More often than not, they leave of their own volition.
When you have employees who are a poor fit and need help recognizing it, you can weed them out by systematic recognition and application of your core values. Provide examples of when core values have been applied improperly, ignored, or mishandled. Decision-making conversations regularly start and end with your core values.
Those who don’t “get” your values will stick out like sore thumbs. When you see that is the case, have a conversation. Refer back to your hiring process. Verify they share your company’s values. If they do, their behavior will follow and all will be well. If they don’t, it’s time to help them transition to a company that is a better fit.
It can sound like an overwhelming prospect, but integrating your core values is like pushing a flywheel. It takes a lot of energy at the beginning, but once it starts spinning, it creates a tremendous amount of power on its own. Not only will keeping bad employees out of your company help your bottom line—it will make your life and your employees’ lives far better.