How ‘hurricane’ employees hurt productivity

Monday, December 2nd, 2013 By Jack Nevison

If only employees could be judged solely on their job performance. Unfortunately, it is seldom that easy.

An employee who is otherwise highly competent may have a personality that is impossible to work with. Such employees might be negative and disrespectful to those around them, causing needless drama and tension in the office. In fact, the interpersonal office dynamics can get so bad that a recent article on Inc.com referred to these types of people as "hurricane" employees. That's because "the damage they cause extends far beyond themselves."

How? The article describes several ways.

Team cohesion is crucial when it comes to working on any project, and disagreeable employees can put that at risk. For example, Sigal Barsade, a Wharton management professor, told Inc.com that it only takes one "toxic employee" to wreck relationships among the entire team. She writes that an office "could unknowingly be affected by a particular negative group member … who causes the entire group to feel apprehensive, angry, or dejected, leading to possible morale and cohesion problems, unrealistic cautiousness, or the tendency to disregard creative ideas."

These negative effects on a team also have an impact on team performance. Will Felps, a professor at Rotterdam School of Management, added that his study found that just one negative employee on a team can cause performance to drop by 30 to 40 percent.

At New Leaf Project Management, our program, "Leading Project Teams," will show you how to handle a difficult team member. Our online estimating game, QPM, lets you learn while you earn PDUs for PMP recertification.

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