Creating the perfect culture is impossible if everyone is not on the same page. I always look at big banking firms investment banking arms and admire how hard everyone works, they get paid well, and at the end of the day or deal, they all go for a drink together. It's a culture to admire in many ways. Maybe not the unhealthiness of long hours, stress and then washing it away with alcohol, but more so the fact that they work as a team to achieve a result and then at the end of the day, can go out and enjoy themselves.

In small companies, it's so much harder. Building culture takes every single person to participate. When you have multiple offices, it takes the most senior person in the office to keep the culture alive. But what happens, when that person is not the right person? It creates havoc. People drop off like flies. They all blame 'culture' of the company. Yet, is it really the culture of the company or the people within the company?

To build culture, it takes everyone's participation. Generally speaking, everyone needs to respect each other and hopefully 'like' each other - and not just on facebook.

One bad egg, can mean your brand is damaged over and over again, especially if they have personality types where they need to draw people in. The 'bad egg' may not in fact be 'bad' but be someone who isn't self-aware and perhaps has gotten on in life, doing what they do, and being moved aside in companies or encouraged to find new positions. Often these people are handpicked for redundancy payouts.

It doesn't mean the general consensus is that they are not likeable, but their glass is typically half full. They don't see the vision, have no need to be the best and don't understand branding.

What do you do with a person like this? In small business it is hard. It becomes personal and particularly in my experience if they are women - emotional.

The only thing a small business owner can do is 'be kind'. Try and encourage the person that they will find the perfect role somewhere else that will meet their needs, even if they think they like their job. The reality is, a small business can be destroyed by people like this especially if they have the power to draw people into their woes.

As Gene Kranz said to an audience I was in a few months ago, "you cannot have one person who is not able to lift to the next level if you want to grow". Decisions have to be made and in my experience, the slower they are made, the worse they get.

We learn in every entrepreneurial course about what to do when someone does not fit the team or is 'poison' and that is to fire fast. In reality, it is so much harder to do.

What's your experience? Do you follow the entrepreneurial code of conduct, or do you let compassion get in the way? Do you think males and females handle these situations differently?

P.S. To all of those people who have resigned from an organisation, been moved aside or terminated - remember, life is about living and things happen for a reason. It can mean that when one door is closed, another one opens with the most magnificent opportunity that has ever crossed your path. Or maybe, it's a case that you are able to explore 'you' and make 'you' a better, more fulfilled person.

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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.


  • Lauren

    Small businesses are definitely hit hardest when it comes to employing the right people due to the small team unit. I think it all comes down to understanding the companies culture and fit required to optimise performance of the unit as a whole. It is challenging to remove the person that doesn't 'fit' in the team however I guess it is important to assess how much damage will be done to the brand and culture if this misfit continues to work or whether letting this person go is best for all involved as it is very challenging to change company culture and revive a damaged brand.

  • Sarah-Jo

    Perhaps rather than "firing fast", small business managers should take such "bad eggs" aside and have a talk with them expressing the problems at hand and explaining the importance of them making some behavioural changes. If given specific areas in which they must improve there is a chance they could improve. Perhaps they feel as though they are not able to make a valuable contribution to the business and hence feel unfulfilled, leading them to go around spreading their bad vibes with others.

    Compassion should not get in the way, but compassion must be expressed rather than merely felt as an emotional twinge within the manager deliberating about to fire or not to fire. Of course once the "bad egg" has been given chances and continues to keep creating a stink, they must be eliminated.

  • Nathan

    small companies have to set an equal oppurtunity in the workplace when culture is being involved. It motivates people to have an open mind when diversifying various types of culture groups.

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