Last week, in preparation for the upcoming Canada Day celebrations on 1st July, I bought a bag of apples to make one of my celebrated ("legend in my own mind") apple pies. As I was putting them away I noticed there was a bruised one. Shrugging, I reckoned that the pie would be long baked before the apple went rotten, so I did nothing about it.
In many organizations, from for profit to not-for-profit to volunteer, there is often an individual who is a bad apple. The trouble with a bad apple in your organization is that they have the potential to negatively impact the organization in two key areas: the people as a whole and implementing strategic plans.
For your talent (like the rest of the apples in my bag) the bad apple is festering away slowing spreading discontent and negativity. In terms of strategic plans (my apple pie) the bad apple is undermining them by possibly forcing compromise or subverting the passion and skills of those engaged in the endeavour.
Dealing with bad apples is never easy; often our default choice is not to deal with them at all. Which is an odd leadership decision as we know intuitively that not dealing with them, through remediation (preferable) or letting them go (worst case), tends to end up costing us more emotionally and/or financially.
But back to my bag of apples. By the time I got around to making my pie I discovered that now half of the apples were bad. Cursing my laziness for not having dealt with that bad apple when I first noticed it (maybe saving the good bits and snacking on them or, if it had been past salvation, composting the whole thing). At least then I would have only had to deal with the short-term pain of getting a single replacement apple.
But, with the shops closed for the holiday and no time left, I now had two problems. One, not enough good apples to make a pie. And two, I had no dessert for the family feast.
On telling my partner, her first question was: "Why didn't you deal with the bad apple in the first place?"