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These two options, however, require that the teammates have some power: when underpowered, teammates become frustrated, distracted and defensive.
This ripening process can be carried out "commercially" as well; easily perishable produce such as bananas and tomatoes which must travel a long distance are often picked before they are ripe and are treated with ethylene gas on the way to their destination.
The two looked at how groups of roughly five to 15 employees in sectors such as manufacturing, fast food, and university settings were affected by the presence of one negative member.
For example, in one study of about 50 manufacturing teams, they found that teams that had a member who was disagreeable or irresponsible were much more likely to have conflict, have poor communication within the team and refuse to cooperate with one another. “Most organizations do not have very effective ways to handle the problem,” said Mitchell.
She hadn’t noticed this employee as being a very important person in the office before he came down with this illness but, upon observing the social atmosphere when he was gone, she came to believe that he had a profound and negative impact.
He truly was the “bad apple” that spoiled the barrel.” Following his wife’s experience, Felps, together with Terence Mitchell, a professor of management and organization in the Business School and UW psychology professor, analyzed about two dozen published studies that focused on how teams and groups of employees interact, and specifically how having bad teammates can destroy a good team.
Felps’ wife was unhappy at work and characterized the environment as cold and unfriendly. One of her co-workers who was particularly caustic and was always making fun of other people at the office came down with an illness that caused him to be away for several days.
“And when he was gone, my wife said that the atmosphere of the office changed dramatically,” Felps said.
In the first scenario, members will express their concerns and ask the individual to change his behavior and, if unsuccessful, the negative member can be removed or rejected.
If either the motivation intervention or rejection is successful, the negative member never becomes a “bad apple” and the “barrel” of employees is spared.