My house has two big apple trees in the little courtyard beside the master bedroom. About three years ago, I started to leverage those delicious green apples by canning them. 

The very first step of the process was to pick all of the apples from the tree and place them into three buckets. One bucket for the apples that looked crispy and vibrant in color. A second for the apples which had some divots and a little bit of bruising but were still worth eating. A third for the apples that were rotten and would not be healthy to eat.

I used the first bucket of apples to make apple pie filling and the second bucket of apples for applesauce and apple cider. 

While the rotten apples were not good to eat, I was able to compost them for later nourishing the dirt used in my garden.

The apples in the pie filling would be seen through the jar or in the pie as if they were on display. During the process, I put a lot of focus on them to make sure they didn’t turn brown. 

While I didn’t need to put as much time and energy into the bruised apples, they were the batch of which I needed the most volume.

And as for the rotten apples? Well, I didn’t spend much time on them as I threw them in the bucket and composted them immediately.

In this process, I consider the best and mediocre apples to be the ‘good apples’ and the rotten apples to be the ‘bad apples’. It is important when it comes to apples or fruit in general, that you separate the bad apples so that they don’t spoil the good apples.

You are probably thinking, “I don’t like where this is headed.” But stay with me! It’s not what you think.

When we talk about people at work, we often refer to them as good and bad apples. But I want to remind you that while this is an analogy often used, people are not apples.

Once an apple is rotten, there’s not much that can happen to change this fact. However, when it comes to people…well…People can change. People can grow. People can adapt. People can thrive. We don’t just toss people away like we might a bad apple.


I want you to take a moment to think about the people on your team that you deem good apples versus bad apples.

  • What do you think causes you to label each person the way you do? What are their differences?
  • Are you projecting anything onto your team that you have deemed good vs. bad? What might be biases of your own that contribute to these thoughts?
  • Have you and are you providing opportunities for your employees to grow and develop professionally?
  • Are the people you think of as bad apples truly rotten people or do they just need something different than what is currently being offered?


When it comes to managing a team, it is important to look at your employees as individual human beings with their own personalities, needs, preferences, and motivators. So here are some tips for cultivating a healthy work culture that everyone enjoys and wants to contribute to.

  • LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Ensure that they are in a position best for their strengths and interests.
  • Healthy soil. Check that their workplace environment is one that your employees enjoy! Is it healthy or is it toxic?
  • Water and sunlight. Give your employees the nourishment they need to do their job.
  • Fertilizer. Present them with opportunities for personal and professional development.


Now I do want to acknowledge that there are some people who really are just bad, rotten apples for your team no matter what you do.

They are the people that you have tried to work with to make it better for all involved. The people who just don’t care to contribute to the team. The people who make inappropriate jokes, unwilling to see the harm in them when called out. The people who give no effort no matter how much you support them.

Those bad apples? Yes. They probably just need to go. 

However, remember that sometimes people get labeled as the bad apples because they are in a position that is not fit for them and/or are not given the opportunity to prove otherwise. 

Some people need you to communicate with them in a different way, to motivate them in a different way. Some people need to be in a different position at work. Some people need more involvement with a team while others need more independent tasks.

If you are a manager, you gotta have people in order to get the job done. And retention is important.

Turnover has been high for a lot of companies. Which means more time and energy spent on filling positions than your actual employees. And I know you have a lot on your plate as a manager. Most likely not apple pie either!

However, if you want to keep people around longer, something has to change.

I encourage you to set aside some time regularly to evaluate the individuals on your team and analyze ways that you can nourish each one so that they can grow into luscious, vibrant apples. Create a plan of action with each individual. This might be as simple as changing how you word your emails or making sure to show your appreciation. Or it might mean a larger, more intensive overall plan.

If you are experiencing a difficult time figuring out what to change? How to improve the work culture? Or are just interested in receiving support to nourish your employees, let’s chat! I love supporting managers and their teams so that you all can love going to work. Probably more than I love canning apples from the tree in my yard. 😉 

Book a discovery session with me to discuss your situation and ways that I can help. Visit www.carolgrubbe.com/discover.

Carol Grubbe LLC: Communication Made Simple

Understanding how to communicate with your employees is as simple as knowing their communication style.