Creating Good Barrels for Good Apples

When it comes to creating a positive organizational culture, most leaders would likely say they want a workplace that is energizing, ethical, collaborative and fun. However, most leaders will also tell you that there is often that one bad apple that spoils the bunch, and then what can you do? The organizational culture seems irrevocably corrupted.

We know, from the work of people such as Dr. Nicholas Christakis, that emotions, both positive and negative, are contagious across networks up to three degrees. This means that your feelings could be affected by people you haven’t met and don’t even know. It also means that your emotional state could be affecting others in your workplace — people in the mailroom, colleagues on a different floor, workgroups in a different department and perhaps even external clients and customers.

While most people want to have positive experiences at work, and intend to have a good day every day, the reality is that life happens. You get in a bad mood, and that infects others. If this happens day after day, the organizational culture can tarnish as people start to expect bad experiences at work and stop trying to influence positive change. Eventually, this can create downward spirals resulting in low employee engagement, higher voluntary turnover, lower productivity and perhaps paving the way for unethical behaviour over the long term.

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