“Would someone be able to help me identify this weed? I first noticed it in my garden about two years ago. It is spreading and I have found it infesting more soil. When I go to pull it, it launches seeds as soon as the plant is touched. It is the perfect organism that sows its seed when its life is endangered. The roots are relatively shallow so it is easy to pull, especially if I catch it early.”
This quote was taken from a gardening site but could well be used by managers in organizations everywhere. Simply replace the words “garden” and “soil” with the word “organization”. The “weed” in the organization’s case is that employee who compromises your organization’s health, wellbeing, and capacity for change. There are many varieties found in this environment often going by the names “Toxic Employee”, “Resistor to Change”, “Rumor monger”, “Backbiter”, or – often the most wily of them all – “The High Performing Underminer”
Characteristics of Weeds
Weeds grow and reproduce quickly, they crowd out or restrict light to more desirable plants and use up the limited nutrients in the soil. They often have similar characteristics to the plant they are crowding out – making it difficult to distinguish from the “good” ones. And they tend to proliferate in land that has been “disturbed” by outside environmental effects.
Interestingly, by definition, a weed is only a weed if it is growing where it is not wanted. The same growth in a different environment just might be welcome. The agriculturist and author J.M. Torrell defined weeds as: a plant that interferes with management objectives for a given area of land at a given point in time.