There are few things more frustrating in business than working in a team where one person appears intent on screwing it up for everyone else.
Picture the scene: you love your job, you love the business and, as marketing professional, you have a genuine affection for the products you are promoting.
What a shame, then, that one single team member is capable of ruining it for everyone else?
If you’re the manager of such a team, the pain is just as acute. Knowing that you have a bad egg among the ranks of your marketing team will make the trip to the office each day one that you dread.
Thankfully, this situation can be fixed with the following strategies.
Address the problem at its source
There’s no getting away from the fact that people can turn bad, but if you’re inadvertently hiring bad eggs from the start, you’re creating a whole heap more work for yourself in the long run.
If you’ve experienced the issues associated with having a bad egg in your team on more than one occasion, your recruitment strategy might need some work.
Look back at those previous bad eggs. There will be commonalities and similar threads to the way their behaviour developed, and those character traits will almost certainly have been absent from the criteria you had when you were hiring.
It’s time to revisit your criteria for potential new recruits. And trust your gut in interviews – deep down, you probably knew those people weren’t right but hired them anyway. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.
Talk to everyone
When a bad egg has seemingly been identified, it’s time to address it head-on, and that means talking not just to the individual in question, but the entire team.
The important word in the last paragraph is ‘seemingly’, because until you’ve got the full story from every team member, it’s best not to pass judgement.
Word will quickly get around that you appear to be undertaking some form of undercover investigation, unless you frame the individual meetings as nothing more than one-to-one catch-ups. Treat them like that, too – don’t go straight in with the big question about the bad egg. Instead, see if it’s addressed naturally by the person sitting opposite you.
Questions such as “are you enjoying working with your team?” or “do you have any significant concerns about the business or the team?” will almost certainly reveal what’s going on.
Look in the mirror
Michael Jackson had a point – sometimes you really do need to look in the mirror.
Bad eggs are rarely bad eggs for no reason at all – there’ll be something fuelling their desire to be militant and continually rock the boat, and it might be something to do with the way the business is run.
Often, this will be because they simply don’t agree with a key element of how the organisation goes about its daily work, but sometimes it’s deeper than that.
They might feel as though they have no connection with the business and no decent understanding of its purpose. Are you being clear enough about the company’s goals and ambitions? Is there a culture of secrecy at the top that’s preventing your marketing team from fully understanding why they come to work each day?
For some team members, this won’t be an issue, because they’re simply happy doing the work their role entails, but for people who have that militant side within them, any flaws within the business will be amplified and subsequently jumped on.
If you can identify those flaws and address them (assuming it’s for the good of the business rather than the bad egg), then you might just turn them around.
Always stay professional
Whatever you do, don’t enter into any dealings with a bad egg with your emotional hat on. Even if this is your business and you have a deep personal interest in it, throwing all of your emotions into the ring won’t end well for anyone.
Chances are, the bad egg will already be in a fairly highly emotional state, and if you approach the situation in the same way, it’ll only exacerbate the problem.
Keep your calm, don’t take anything they say personally and avoid spreading gossip or demonstrating favouritism.
This will be one of the hardest strategies of the lot, because like it or not, you will get emotional about a team member who seems intent on ruining it for everyone else. Just work hard to keep those emotions at bay.
If it comes to it, say goodbye
No one wants to sack anyone – let’s get that straight. Firing people is a horrible job and something few if any marketing managers relish, no matter how bad the bad egg.
Firing someone from your team should always be seen as the absolute last result and carried out in accordance with both employment law and the finer detail of your employee contracts.
However, if the bad egg commits gross misconduct or some other form of activity that provides a legitimate reason to fire them, you’ll have to bite the bullet.
But there is another way if the situation is less serious.
Take time out to speak candidly with the individual and do so away from the office environment. Take them for a coffee and have a heart to heart session. If you can see no way of meeting their requirements or know that the business will simply never change in the way they want it to, be honest about the fact. For some bad eggs, this level of honesty will be enough to ease them out of the door and in search of an alternative path.
Once you have a solution for dealing with the bad egg in your marketing team, make sure you stick to the plan.
Hopefully, this won’t result in anyone leaving the company, and if that’s the case it’s important you keep on top of the fix and review it regularly.
Even when things appear to have returned to an even keel, bad eggs can turn sour again pretty quickly with the right triggers, so keep an eye on their behaviour, check in with both them and the rest of the team regularly and make it clear that you care about everyone’s happiness. It’ll make a real difference in the long term.