How nasty, incompetent, or lazy employees do damage far in excess of their number.

Slacker:   A person who shirks work or responsibility and withholds effort
Downer:   A person who expresses repeated pessimism, exhibits insecurity, is easily irritated, lacks resilience or hope
Jerk:     A person who does not treat others with respect, kindness, or dignity

A Wall Street Journal article (October 24, 2011) titled, “How a Few Bad Apples Ruin Everything” referred to a “growing body of research” suggesting that keeping a few bad apples around can “ruin the performance of a team.” Not only is it unfair to the true performers but it can create a culture of disrespect and selfishness.

The article concluded with a story about a clothing retailer that fired a top-producing salesman, who nonetheless was a bad apple. While no one individual sales person ever topped the bad apple sales rep’s production, total sales shot up 30% as the TEAM performed better.

Closing quotes:

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” — Babe Ruth

“No member of a crew is praised for the rugged individuality of his rowing.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“A major reason capable people fail to advance is that they don’t work well with their colleagues.” — Lee Iacocca