At one time or another, we have all heard the saying that one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.Recently, I found out for myself. I purchased a bushel of red delicious apples from the Farmers Market. There were seventy-two apples in the bushel. The bushel was left intact in the garage for two days.Upon unpacking the apples, I had 57 great apples, 8 slightly bruised apples, and 8 rotten apples to betossed out. Of course, I started thinking about what would have happened if the apples were un-packedin a timely manner. Could I have saved some by immediately disposing of the rotten ones? How manywere ruined just because they were next to or touching a rotten one? What is the valuablemanagement lesson here?
1. The Pareto Principle also known as the 80/20 rule applies once again. The Pareto principle (also known as the 80–20 rule, the law of the vital few, sparsity-of-effects principle) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Who are the 20%
rotten apples on your team?
2. Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today – odds can be increased by acting immediately. Two days wait, cost me eight. Do you think waiting longer would have cost me more? Who are you waiting to address a performance issue with that continues to impact other team members in a negative way?
3. You can save some by tossing out the rotten one’s early. Ever notice how your good apples shine when the rotten ones are gone? Have you ever thought of the valuable team members you lost because of not addressing the rotten ones sooner or not at all?
4. The eight slightly bruised were almost perfect. By concentrating on their perfect part, and downplaying the one little imperfection, my perfect apples increased to 90%. For those eight apples, we ate them first enjoying the part that was perfect and delicious. How many times have you concentrated on the small imperfection of a team member without utilizing their numerous strengths and good parts? Do you concentrate on the good?
Don’t let the rotten apples spoil the others. Address issues immediately to avoid the loss of others. Find the good in those that are slightly bruised. Enjoy your harvest.
Professional development of others is something I really enjoy. As a leader, I always encourage and help my team to continually learn and grow in their education and experiences. Some companies today may be challenged with lack of budgeted training dollars for professional development. Even if challenged, there are ways you can invest in people. Some ideas that may work for you:
Lunch and Learn – Take an hour a week and meet in person with your team. Have everyone to bring their lunch and have those remote to dial in to a conference line. Use this time to discuss a chapter a week in a book that you are reading together. Or have someone to teach others about something they have learned at a conference or through a recent training session. When someone does have the privilege to attend outside training, make it an expectation that they do a teach-back to the group upon return. It will help them apply what they have learned as well as provide new information to the team.
Identify gaps in skills – Work with your team to identify skill gaps so you will have target development plans for the year. Meet with each team member once a month in a one-on-one session. Help keep them on track to accomplish their yearly goals for professional development. If you need help in identify the gap in skills, consider trying a proven assessment offered through my company.
Toastmasters International – A world leader in communication and leadership development. For $36 every six months, members can improve their speaking and leadership skills. Start by checking out a local meeting in your area as a guest. You can also start your own club at your company. Membership in Toastmasters is one of the greatest investments you can make in yourself.
Have you ever done something just because it was the right thing to do for your employees and then years later read about it in a book and have one of those “aha” moments? Well, I did. During my management career in the call center industry, the senior leadership group would get together and have an annual cookout for the employees. We were always very cautious of costs and sticking to our budget. We would price out having it catered and needless to say, we always ended up doing it ourselves. A trip to the local wholesale club store to fill our flatbed carts with food, drinks, condiments, paper products, etc. was the norm. Putting it all together and setting up a schedule where we each pull our shift of grilling, serving (fixing plates), and cleaning up. Exhausted before we even got started. It was all hands on deck and the management team did all the work in the midst of the hot humid SC summer. We always got great feedback from the employees of how nice it was but most importantly that it was very meaningful to them that we served them. For us to do all the work is what they really appreciated. So, my “aha” moment was in a book titled “Conflict Unraveled – Fixing Problems at Work and in Families” by Andra Medea. The author (page 76) talks about the power of food…..”No Catering……Having everyone out of their authority role eating together like kids in a family….Great for employee morale”! Aha, been there done that and now I really get it! It was the right thing to do but now I really understand why. Take the time to serve your employees.
Recently Yahoo CEO announced free lunches for employees to help boost morale. A great idea and change to show people they are appreciated. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from John Maxwell, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.