One bad apple spoils the office

This article appeared on the ninemsn site from the Reuters news service and struck a cord with a regular Your Life Patterns attendee.

One "bad apple" can spread negative behaviour like a virus, bringing down office mates or destroying a good team, according to a new study examining conflict in the workplace.

Negative behaviour outweighs positive behaviour, so a bad apple can spoil the whole barrel, but one or two good workers can't "unspoil" it say researchers at the University of Washington in the February issue of Research in Organisational Behaviour.

"Companies need to move quickly to deal with such problems because the negativity of just one individual is pervasive and destructive and can spread quickly" said co-author, Terence Mitchell, a . a professor of management and organisation.

Your Life Patterns discusses how our negativity can 'infect' interactions with others. Growing productivity comes from understanding the causes of our poor attitudes and behaviours and use of constructive thinking when bringing these into the positive. This is a personal responsibility, and increasingly one that is being embraced by progressively thinking companies.

If a bad apple slips through screening in the hiring process, he or she should be placed to work alone as much as possible, the study's lead author, William Felps, said.

The study defines negative workers as those whose do not do their fair share of the work, are chronically unhappy and emotionally unstable, or bully or attack others. Your Life Patterns suggests ways to integrate "bad apples" into the workplace constructively, if this is what the company chooses to do.

Once you begin to interpret your own behavioural patterns and those of your staff, better office dynamics result. Match the staff member with tasks they are better suited to by addressing conflict from a patterning perspective so all staff can work together more harmoniously.

Phelps said he was inspired to investigate workplace conflict by his wife's experience with a "bad apple" and what happened when the worker was out sick for several days.

"When he was gone my wife said the atmosphere of the office changed dramatically" Felps said. "People started helping each other, playing classical music on their radios, and going out for drinks after work. But when he returned to the office, things returned to the unpleasant way they were".

"He truly was the bad apple that spoiled the barrel" Felps said. The researchers said they found that a single toxic or negative team member can be the catalyst for a group's downward spiral. .......

Your Life Patterns looks at the psychological profile of the energy that you create within your workplace, home and social arena and how this affects productivity, relationships and health. It offers insights for businesses to achieve their goals and manage their teams with positive dynamics.

In a follow up study, the researchers found the vast majority of the people they surveyed could identify at least one "bad apple" with whom they had worked and who had produced organisational dysfunction.

Businesses in Sydney are actively implementing material presented by Larayne Porter and Your Life Patterns. Knowing what pattern combinations work well together and identifying distinct methods of dealing with bad apples and outcomes from your teams, brings companies satisfying results.