How much of a negative impact can the bad apples among your employees have? Is having no bad employees a realistic goal? First things first: What is a bad employee? Is it someone who:

• Does a poor job?

• Takes too much time off?

• Has a penchant for punching other employees?

While none of these characterizations is ideal, they all focus on actions and results instead of the root cause. Instead of trying to create a comprehensive list of “do’s and don’ts” for your employees to ignore, start at the foundation: your core values.

A bad employee is anyone who does not love and live your company’s core values.

Discovering your core values is an action in-and-of itself, but when you have a set of “rules” by which to run your company, you will find that the people who line up with those rules, tend not to violate the company’s “do’s and don’ts.”

Luckily, you have the keys to the happy-employee kingdom. Get ready to discover the three steps to protect your organization from the wrong employees:

1. Stop them from showing up

2. Stop them from getting in

3. Stop them from sticking around


Pre-framing is extremely important when weeding out potential problem employees. How an employee is first exposed to your company is key. Consider the following two examples:

• A current employee tells his friend, a prospective employee, “You should apply at my job; the place is so disorganized, we could get away with anything.”

• A prospective employee comes across your website and thinks, “These are my people! I love what they are all about, I wonder if they are hiring…”

When you feature enough of your core values on your website, in your hiring ads, on your phone systems, and your current employees become evangelists for your mission, you position your company as the right place for the right employee. Whenever a prospective employee becomes aware of your company under these circumstances, they feel like they have finally found their tribe. This alone will dramatically increase the quality of your applicant pool. Which brings us to…


Once you have laid the foundation in Step 1, the job of keeping bad employees from infiltrating your organization is half done. All you have to do is make sure that your company is actually living and breathing the core values that brought prospective employees to you in the first place.

So many employers focus on job history and/or technical ability. Both offer good insight, but are only relevant with employees who have the same core beliefs as you do. Hire for attitude, train for skill.

If your company is passionate about outstanding customer service, it is eminently possible to teach an employee how to serve a customer. It is a fool’s errand to teach him to be enthusiastic about customer service. Your life and profitability will improve exponentially when you are in the business of stoking your employees’ passions and values. You are not in the business of convincing people to do something they don’t want to do or to believe something they don’t want to believe.

Craft your interview process around the values that attracted your prospective employees. Once that is a match, job history and ability to do the job at hand come into play. An unintended consequence of passionately living your organization’s core values is an extremely attractive community. This can make employees that aren’t a good fit work even harder to get in, even when your pre-framing and interview process is core-values-based. Time for the big guns…


Creating a core-values-driven culture not only naturally repels the wrong employees; it also strongly attracts the right employees. They feel “at home,” like they have finally found something special. They don’t want to leave. They stay longer, work harder, and enjoy their jobs more.

The flip side is that people who are not a core-value fit feel out of place. They don’t fit in. They don’t understand why everyone acts so differently. They discover that the amazing community that attracted them to your company isn’t for them. More often than not, they wander off into the night of their own free will.

When you do have someone on board who doesn’t get the memo, and needs a little help recognizing they aren’t a fit, you will weed them out by systematic recognition and application of your core values. Core values being either applied properly, ignored, or mishandled are part and parcel of every action and every topic of discussion. Decision-making conversations regularly start and end with your core values.

Those who don’t “get” your values will stick out like a sore thumb. When you see that is the case, have a conversation. Refer back to your hiring process. Verify that they share your company’s values. If they do, their behavior will follow and all is well. If they don’t, it’s time to help them transition into a company that is a better fit.

It can sound like an overwhelming prospect, but integrating your core values into your company is like pushing a flywheel. It takes a lot of energy at the beginning, but once it gets spinning, it creates a tremendous amount of power on its own. Not only will keeping bad employees out of your company help your bottom line; it will also make your life and your employees’ lives far better.

Mike Campion is a celebrated speaker, entrepreneur, and author of I’m a Freaking Genius, Why is this Business so Hard? A small business expert, Mike has built several multi-million dollar businesses. As the host of the “Conversations with a Genius” podcast, Mike shares his business wisdom with his listeners. For more information, please visit