The Impact of a Bad Apple

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The Impact of a Bad Apple

It is no secret that we meet teams who have trouble working together and therefore achieving their goals. There are a number of reasons why teams don’t work well – poor leadership, a lack of clear goals, a lack of accountability, a lack of follow through, poor relationships and unfortunately, having the wrong people/person in the team.

Let’s talk about having the wrong people in your team – to use a common phrase – a ‘bad apple’.

In this case a ‘bad apple’ is a team member who creates dysfunction. It’s a person whose behaviour regularly has a detrimental effect on other team members and then ultimately on the performance of the business as a whole. 

Why do ‘bad apples’ exist?

The reasons could be:

  • They are the wrong person for their role – they don’t have the skills, experience or capability to perform their role appropriately so mistakes and poor performance occur
  • They have a poor attitude due to personality clashes, or their general approach to life does not match the values and beliefs of the team
  • Having a lack of skill or a poor attitude is not effectively dealt with by the leader – they are not kept accountable
  • They have an ulterior motive due to a lack of confidence, which then masks indiscretions or errors
  • They are the wrong fit for the team – their values, morals and behaviour are contrary to that of the team and the business

What does a bad apple cost you?

  • Difficult relationships with your customers, resulting in a loss of customers
  • They may hinder decisions and progression by the team on projects, which means you miss opportunities
  • They make rash decisions that are not in line with the business’ mission and values – you may lose money and credibility as a result
  • They may skip procedures and policies which results in safety breaches, lack of consistency and mistakes
  • Their behaviour impacts negatively on other team members which means others disengage which means productivity is affected
  • Due to not being happy in themselves they may start or contribute to gossip. This can be dangerous and may end up in bullying complaint resulting in potential legal costs
  • Poor behaviour by ‘bad apples’ can spread. They may influence others in a negative way, which then results in others in the team becoming ‘bad apples’
  • If your ‘bad apple’ is a senior manager or leader, your culture is severely at risk. Poor behaviour witnessed by customers or other staff can result in people ‘walking away’ from your team or business
  • Your time is consumed putting out fires or arguments thanks to their behaviour, which results in you wasting time, reducing your productivity and increasing your stress levels  

All of these possibilities will cost you money, create stress, damage your reputation and destroy morale.

Here’s the challenge…… 

Too often we witness ‘bad apples’ continually getting away with such behaviour and having a negative impact on otherwise productive teams and businesses. 

At times as the leader the option of ‘letting it go’ (the behaviours) becomes the option, instead of calling the behaviour and giving clear feedback about what is expected and in some cases, should this not work to rectify the problem, putting processes in place to remove the ‘bad apple.’

I have often asked the question,

‘What if that one bad apple was removed, how much difference would that make to your team?’ 

or alternatively,

‘If that one bad apple was removed, how much difference would a fresh new face make to the team?’

So as a leader, if you have a ‘bad apple’ in your team, what are you going to do to ensure their behaviour is not allowed to impact negatively on the team, and your business as a whole?   

It’s your call.




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