“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort.” - John Ruskin
You may have assembled an awesome team of highly qualified people. You may have done an exceptional job of building on your strengths and staffing to your weakness. If however, your team has been sluggish or out of sync, or you find yourself suddenly dealing with all kinds of internal team personnel issues, you may have a “staff infection.”
Medically speaking, a “staph infection” (caused by staphylococcus bacteria) usually comes from contaminated objects, and can be transmitted to others who have come into physical contact with the infected area.
Signs that you’ve been infected may be a painful rash or a boil. You may come down with a fever, feel nauseous or feel like vomiting (many leaders with a “staff infection” have felt this way at one time or another). If left untreated, toxic shock syndrome inevitably sets in.
I know this sounds gross, but it’s an excellent analogy for a “staff infection.” When you see the symptoms you can be sure that something or someone has contaminated your team.
What are some signs that you may have a “staff infection?”
Excuses for incomplete or below par assignment work
An emerging sense of entitlement among some team members
A sudden outbreak of chronic complaining while offering no possible solutions
A subtle presence of negative thinking at team meetings
An appearance of negative alliances when calling for a vote that effects change
Nothing hinders the effectiveness of a business more than team members being infected with an unhealthy disposition. You can be a conscientious leader and still miss the early warning signs of this most contagious disposition malady.
If these attitudes are not properly addressed it will impact your team’s effectiveness. If you find yourself coming down with a mild case of “it’s you against the world,” keep in mind that you may still have a good team, and these attitudes are separate from their skillsets. Your objective is to treat the infected personnel.
If the infected person is an influencer your team will be at greater riskr, and approaching this directly and wisely will test your leadership and your people skills.
How do You Treat a “Staff Infection?”
"I have always found that the speed of the boss is the speed of the team."- Lee Iacocca
Review and Reestablish Positive Team Culture
Clearly define acceptable and unacceptable attitudes among coworkers. Be sure to emphasize and focus on the positive traits of your team. Delineate the consequences for good and bad behavior. As a leader you must stand by your word and follow through on all you say to your team. Exemplify the culture you want to create or reaffirm.
Note: Never mark something as unacceptable that you’re not willing to take action on.
Address Negative Behaviors Directly and Immediately
Do not address bad attitudes or behaviors publicly unless the attitudes and/or behaviors are blatant reoccurring and detrimental to your business. I do all I possibly can to address a bad attitude and behavior privately, in the hope of helping a skilled valuable person recover. Everyone on your team must understand and believe that unacceptable attitudes and behavior cannot be tolerated.
Address the Issues with Improvement and Relationships in Mind
As much as it relies on me, maintaining a good relationship is always my first objective. Addressing an attitude will sometimes test a relationship because time is of the essence. Always begin with positive affirmations because we’re dealing with people.
Seek to discover if something is troubling them personally, don’t be afraid to ask. Change is a process so set a time frame to bring about the desired change together. Keep in mind that an attitude is a choice. People will either choose to change or not, and the consequences for not changing is what tests the relationship.
Protect Your Team
My personal advice from experience is;
Set a high standard for work relationships and effectiveness.
Don’t allow a “Staff Infection” to ruin your team and destroy their effectiveness.
*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***