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Preventing One Bad Apple from Rotting the Bushel

“No, I won’t work on that. I don’t get paid to do that.” Have you ever said that to your manager? Have you heard that from your employees? If you answered “yes” to either question, what was the consequence?

In a recent chat with my friend and mentor, she shared that particular retort came from her employee in response to a project request. The shocking response begged the question, “Why would an employee say that especially when the project is part of her responsibilities?”

While a number of factors influence employees, including personality, generation gap, job satisfaction, and company culture, this prompted me to reflect on my own career as an employee, executive advisor, and consultant. While I never would’ve said, “No. I don’t get paid to do that,” I would’ve asked “Why?” followed quickly by, “How high do you want me to jump?”

Behavioral psychology is a key factor in your employees’ daily engagement. For example, I was raised to believe that a job is a privilege not a right, you should give 200% effort, always look for ways to improve, and treat others with respect. This influenced my approach to business and interacting with management. While you can’t necessarily fix or change employee responses, which are based on their personal experiences and environmental factors, you can shape their work environment. That will also shape an employee.


Hiring the right person to do the job can make or break a team. While that’s easier said than done because people can change, lie, and/or perform poorly regardless of fit, hiring the right person for your team influences not only your team but also anyone in contact with your new hire. The wrong fit leads to negativity, which deteriorates company culture.


Set expectations clearly from the beginning of a role, project, or business change. If someone isn’t meeting expectations, a frank conversation is essential for alignment and delivery on goals.


Provide people with the map, directions, and tools for the job. When someone has that magical mix to achieve their job responsibilities, they are enabled and empowered for self-driven accomplishment. They feel valued and trusted, which also creates a positive corporate culture.


Company level
An often-overlooked component of influence, internal communications shapes employee perception and experience. Strategic, integrated executive and department messages impact how people feel and view their company. A unified and appreciated workforce filled with brand pride goes above and beyond their job description to help each other and the company.

Non-strategic, non-integrated messaging leads to an employee perception of chaos, misalignment, and messaging overload. This perception leads employees to wonder if leadership is working together or hiding information, which prompts people not to trust their leaders or the company direction.

Employee level
Each employee needs to understand his/her role within an organization. Communicating a clear line of site to end goals and setting expectations of their contribution are vital to them feeling empowered, trusted, and valued. Regular one-on-one meetings also encourage ongoing alignment and a personal connection.

One apple or the bushel

In an ideal state, all of the above factors can be at play, and you’ll still have an employee who is not a team player and remains disengaged. Ask yourself, “Is this employee creating a toxic environment for me and others?” One bad apple can rot the whole bushel. If you’ve addressed the situation directly with the team member and the behavior continues, it may be time to address it with Human Resources.

Have you encountered this scenario? What worked (or didn’t) for you and your team?


From leadership advising and strategic planning to content creation and multimedia implementation, futureAlign provides end-to-end communications to pave the way for a positive employee experience. When you provide your team with the map, directions, and tools for their job, you align people around the future that’s possible. Want to learn more? Check out our solutions or reach Andrea at

Andréa Kohalmi

Andréa Kohalmi

Andréa Kohalmi, Managing Director, Internal & External Communications Consultant
20 years experience developing and implementing global internal and external corporate communications strategies, including executive messaging, employee engagement, change management, public relations, and marketing for companies including Westinghouse Lighting, CBS/Viacom (Westinghouse Electric licensing division), and Salesforce. BA in English, Marketing concentration

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