Whilst the reality TV show The Apprentice portrays a business world where power-hungry bosses can fire people whenever they want, the reality is that today’s workforce is protected by stringent employment laws.
This has given people more security at work and stopped the Donald Trumps of this world firing people just because they’ve got out of the wrong side of the bed that morning.
However, this puts pressure on HR managers to hire the right people. If they make a mistake, they could subject their colleagues to years of low productivity.
In this list we look at four character traits that companies should try and avoid.
People who are unwilling to ‘muck in’
This type of employee can hide in larger companies, but not in startups.
Fixing a printer won’t be in many people’s job description, but it’s still a task that somebody will have to do. If somebody is unwilling to take on these extra roles the entire team’s capacity to operate as a unit will be challenged - this goes against the ethos of the most successful startup companies, and is likely to resign a startup to the 90% which fail year on year.
Everyone likes glory.
The world’s best paid sportsmen bask in glory. They score the goals, make the touchdowns and hit the home-runs, but their success shouldn’t be defined individually, but collectively.
It can be difficult for companies to praise their staff in the mainstream media. When Amazon does well, the praise goes to Jeff Bezos, when Google does well - Larry Page gets the headlines. This is all well and good externally, but internally, glory-grabbers can be a real problem. They demotivate the people who have helped them achieve a certain goal, and ostracize themselves from the team at the same time.
Their arrogance might also mean that the next time a goal’s set, the supporting cast might be less inclined to help out.
So you’ve had a good year - why not take the next a little easier?
Employees who rest on their laurels after a sustained period of success can quickly go from being important members of your company to deadwood.
Everybody should understand that their workload, especially at a young company, is refreshed every day. The other problem is that coasting is contagious. As soon as someone starts seeing a colleague getting away with not working hard, there’s a good chance they will follow suit.
For management it’s important to sit these people down and continually reassess their targets.
‘The Water Cooler Effect’ is a book written by eminent psychologist Nicholas DiFonzo, about how rumours spread throughout organizations.
Getting rid of gossiping isn’t possible. You put 50 people together in an office and you can guarantee that within a couple of days, they’ll be talking about one another behind their backs.
Companies should be wary of people who gossip too much though. Employees who gossip whilst working are less productive and cause those around them to waste time as well.
It can also create a culture of back-stabbing where people aren’t sure about who to trust. This causes unrest and is likely to increase staff turnover.