One Bad Apple... Or... The Blight Amongst Us

Taking advantage of our recently gorgeous Northwest sunshine the other day, I decided to take a walk. As I started out on my three mile trek, I noticed a home that had a beautifully landscaped yard. The grass was green and weed-free, the flowers thrived in rich brown soil with plenty of sunshine, and there were decorative pots on the porch containing healthy looking plants. This was the kind of yard that made you want to go home and set your yard on fire, you know?

Except for this one extremely tall evergreen tree in a corner of this little gardener’s oasis. This evergreen tree was completely brown, from top to bottom. Every single branch, every single junipery branch, the trunk, everything: dead.

Blight can be a big problem when dealing with junipers. I remember battling it at a home I once owned. If you trim a juniper or arborvitae that has blight, and then you trim your other juniper/arborvitae plants without disinfecting your blade, you will spread the blight to all of the other plants. They will slowly develop the symptoms, and kill the plant. This was a costly lesson for me to learn.

Thinking about blight and the way it affects plants got me to thinking about companies, recruiting procedures, on-boarding/retention practices, and the overall atmosphere where people work every day. Although blight can be more difficult to spot in humans, it’s there all the same.

Have you ever examined your organization for internal blight? Is it hidden in a hiring authority? An office manager? The relocation contact? Or is it more inconspicuously disguised as a policy or process? Does the “blight attitude” manifest itself in the form of rolling eyes, exasperated sighs, impatience when it comes to sharing knowledge about the company, or just a general ambivalence about the company’s goals? Unfortunately, just as with junipers, employee blight is insidious, contagious, and can really take a toll on morale, growth objectives, and employee job satisfaction.

Take a few minutes to review your application/hiring process. Is it overly complicated? Who is reviewing the applications? Does this person have vision and enthusiasm? Are they able to see potential and generate excitement for the positions they are looking to fill? Or are they so loaded down with other work or too infected with employee blight-itis that they view each application as a burden, a potential waste of time, successful on-boarding as a chore? Do you have a policy that is so tightly exclusionary that it breeds bitterness in your employees as they view it as a “screen-out” benefit that they can never obtain?

Don’t let blight affect your organization. Be sure that your policies are engaging, inclusionary, and that there is a clear understanding of company objectives and goals. A work force that is able to visualize the end goal and feel a part of the success of a company is far less likely to develop the negative, poisonous attitude that employee blight-itis produces.

Views: 81

Comment by Maureen Sharib on June 30, 2008 at 1:50pm
Hi Nancy,

LOVED the imagery - you're a very good writer!
Blights can affect every organism - including social networks.

Comment by Sally Raade on June 30, 2008 at 7:00pm
Hi Nancy,

Another great post! You are great at getting the reader into you message.
Are you also a novel writer?

Comment by Lance on July 1, 2008 at 3:39pm
Ah, how true it is the "one bad apple" theme. I usually find it's HR that carries the blight. Good stuff here! I like trees. Trees are neat.
Comment by Catia Yun on July 7, 2008 at 1:48pm
Hi Nancy, loved your post. Great analogy to think about being proactive and truly looking into the organization and nurturing it the right way. It also gets me thinking about the importance of knowing the nature and qualities of the blight to understand how to deal with it when we do encounter one. Thanks for sharing.


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