THE BLOG

The Very Bad Apple

17/12/2014 10:30 GMT | Updated 16/02/2015 10:59 GMT

Of course we are all well aware what such a commodity does to the rest, be they the actual fruit or the human version. What has surprised me is just how quickly this rot can set in if not tackled quickly.

Office gossip becomes scandal, and what has been fun banter turns into viperous whispers. Unrest and unease escalates and what was once a fun and happy environment becomes fraught with tension. This whole situation is of course further exacerbated by social media should you care to indulge.

What is in my recent experience very disconcerting, and frankly hugely upsetting, is that much of the gossip is by large unfounded, but the viper in the nest is determined to do everything they can to destabilize the ship.

My own experience has been a first in 25 years of running my own business, so I guess I am very lucky. And particularly having recounted my recent woes to other owner managers I am certainly not alone in my experience.

As an owner manager and one who's number one value is: BE KIND, I guess I had expected to do unto me as I do to them. Mistake number one!

I was not expecting thanks why would I?

I run a business and that doesn't often come with the territory, but I wasn't expecting such traitorous behaviour. There are two things that as an owner manager I really appreciate in my staff. They are trust and loyalty.

When these are breached I admit I find it very, very hard to recover. I move on, what choice do we have? But I don't forget.

Worse still of course when this betrayal takes place by long serving staff. Or perhaps even more so when previously loyal staff, have been coerced into what may be called challenging behaviour by the newbie!

If you are reading this and thinking "well hardly third world problems" you are of course correct, but it doesn't really make it any easier for the owner manager who takes such betrayal very personally indeed.

The most challenging thing is finding out why this happened in first place. And then of course ensuring everything possible is done to stop a reoccurrence.

Email interpretation is partly to blame. How something is meant to sound and how it is read can be entirely different. We are all in such a rush all the time that such communication can, on occasion, seem discourteous at best.

At times generally sitting and chatting are rarely options, as we rush from one meeting to another barely catching our breath so getting to know staff personally is not easy. Often parties are working remotely and it is important to manage being friends and friendly when dealing across all staff groups.

Personality profiling may help, but would that help you pick up the challenging disloyalty gene? I think not.

We certainly spend time talking about our values and how important they are but whilst these are part of my DNA I can't be assured of absolute buy in.

We appear to be in a somewhat "it's all about me" society at times, when it comes to work place behaviour, and my own motivations about paying it forward and supporting the less fortunate are not as common as I would like to hope.

None of us like being taken for granted in work or at play but owner managers, perhaps more than most, find this behaviour very hard to forgive as by large we have sacrificed so much on our journey.

The answer: I don't have one, except to say as we so often do: Change the people or change the people.