Another researcher, Will Felps, catalogued three prominent types of these bad apples, with descriptions that seem to come from the game Dungeons & Dragons:

• “The withholder of effort” is a mighty warrior who refuses to lift his battle axe. He makes everyone else on the team do his work and makes them feel they are being taken advantage of.

• “The affectively negative” is a wizard of doom and gloom whose constant negativity sucks the energy out of any team.

• “The interpersonal deviant” is the troll who in subtle or not-so-subtle ways tends to break all the social rules. This includes the rude person who does not follow norms, the bully who takes delight it intimidating, the gossip and the chronic underminer.

These creatures are shockingly more common than you may think and the biggest culprits in destroying morale. Unfortunately, they are also sometimes the leaders who were supposed to fix everything. Which brings us back to the crisis.

Traumatic situations like the pandemic trigger our fight-or-flight response. The good news is that we have another instinct: People who experience crisis together tend to form stronger relationships and bonds. In experiments, participants under stress are much more likely to collaborate in an economic game than those who aren’t.

Unfortunately, it is also true that chronic stress wears us out and makes us more aggressive and less collaborative. This means that the longer the crisis lasts, the more we will need all the tools at our disposal to maintain morale.

So hopefully, by the time you read this, you have just come back from happy hour in your favorite bar or restaurant and spent time with your colleagues. If you didn’t, chances are that virtual happy hours are getting old. If that’s the case, remember that even if we can’t drink together, we can still succeed together. And we will.  

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