In What I Learned about Leadership in a Cranberry Bog … Part 1 we saw that our job as leaders is to make sure we keep the water level high in our leadership environments.

The goal is to create a healthy harvest of rising employees and profits. Flooding the bog should be our top priority!

Unfortunately, just as not all cranberries are good, neither are all employees. Every leader knows the challenge of trying to lead someone who is antagonistic toward the mission. Let’s just say it’s not fun.

How do you know if someone is a bad berry? That varies according to the situation, but suffice it to say you better figure it out. Failure to do so can ruin your company.

In the cranberry industry sorting the good berries from the bad is systematically done every day. That was not the case until John “Peg-Leg” Webb came along back in the 1880‘s.

Webb was one of the first growers of cranberries in New Jersey. Thanks to his wooden leg, Webb was unable to move the berries out of the loft of his barn where he was known to store them. So Peg-Leg improvised and poured the berries down the steps that led to the loft. He discovered that most of the berries would bounce from step to step on their way to the barn floor. However, not all the berries bounced. The berries that were bruised and soft got stuck on the steps while the freshest and firmest berries bounced to the bottom.

Because of his peg leg, John Webb was responsible for revolutionizing the cranberry industry. His fluke discovery led to the development of the cranberry bounce board separator which is still used today by major harvesters to cull berries that are not up to the highest standards.

When it comes to your organization, do you have a “Bounce Board Separator” to remove the harmful berries? Employees who are negative or critical are some of the common culprits.

The danger of a bad staff member is that he is rarely identified as the enemy since he strikes from inside the organization. Who wants to believe that he hired the wrong person or that someone who was once a top performer has changed so drastically?

A great exercise is to write down the names of those on your team and place a check mark beside the names of those you view as the good berries (loyal, positive, energetic, mission focused) and an X beside the names of those who are the bad berries (negative, cynical, critical, lazy).

Next have a frank conversation with anyone who receives an X. Ninety days after the conversation do the exercise again. If anyone gets a second X, it is time to pull out the bounce board separator and get rid of them.

The old saying that one bad apple can spoil the bunch is not only true for apples and berries. It is true for people and teams. You owe it to yourself and your team to deal with the bad berries in a timely manner. Too much influence is on the line for you to look the other way.

Lesson #2 from the Bog: You owe it to yourself and your team to deal with the bad berries in a timely manner.

Leadership Begins at Home,

Randy

Why do you think it is so hard for leaders to admit hiring mistakes?

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Author: Randy

Randy is an author, speaker, executive coach, and the CEO of InteGREAT Leadership. He invests his time encouraging leaders around the world.