Working with the “Bad Apple”
We’ve all heard the phrase “One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.” While its origins are not entirely known, I would imagine that it originates from an apple orchard farmer who would purposefully remove that apple from the bushel so that its diseases would not spread to the rest of the apples.
When teams are in the transition to good Agile practices, whether from another ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) or from poorly implemented Agile practices, you will often find your team has a “bad apple.” They will often reveal themselves in one of a few various manners such as:
When to Step up / When to step back
As an Agile practitioner you have to be able to discern between “when to step up” and “when to step back.”1 Before we look at what to do with the “bad apple.” Let’s first look at what I mean by “stepping up” and “stepping back”.
Determine if it is time, as a leader, to step up and “assist/guide” them towards success. You don’t want to find yourself where you constantly have to come to their rescue, but you also don’t want to let them continue to fail either.
When working with team members stepping back goes beyond trusting them to do the job they were hired to do. What this also entails is allowing the team or team members to experience the failure within the team. This way the team can learn to be self-managing and learn to be successful from its failures.
As with the bad apple in the bushel, the “bad apple” on the team needs to be dealt with to prevent spreading of the “disease.” However, it isn’t always recommended to just “remove” the bad apple. So what do you do?
Unlike the bad apple in the bushel, your team member can learn, change, and grow. Resistant team members need to be guided, encouraged, and mentored along the way.