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  • Awatif Yahya

The Four Types of Apples In Your Organization

Updated: Jul 9



Few people have raised doubts about the effect of training in changing behavior. They are skeptical about ways to transform bad apples in their organizations into good apples. To their concerns, I say there are four types of people.


Using the apple analogy, organizations might have: rotten apples, bad apples, going-bad apples, and good apples. Dealing with each type will depend on the organizational culture and leadership embraced.

Rotten Apples are hard to change. Not only are they set in their ways, but they see nothing beyond their own beliefs. Beliefs which have been deeply engraved in their brain, their upbringing and lifestyle. To them, changing their beliefs risks erasing their identities. Hence, the mere thought of considering a behavioral change is threatening.


An effective hiring process would weed out rotten apples, or at least eliminate them in the organization. If not, and if the leadership wants to maintain these individuals or cannot separate from them, then extra supervision is needed to ensure their behavior does not spread throughout the organization. Highlight the consequences of unacceptable behavior to discourage them from bad conduct, and support bystanders and victims in reporting any incidents from rotten apples. It goes without saying, all reported incidents should be thoroughly investigated.

Bad Apples can change with intentional effort. This is where training, coaching, correction and redemption can happen. Individuals falling in this type may or may not know their behavior is negatively affecting others. They might be devastated to learn that they have hurt others. This awareness is the first step to self-correction.

Going-Bad Apples are those individuals who are lost or confused. They tend to be heavily influenced; hence in need of guidance to stop them from going bad. A combination of training, discussion forums, reflection and coaching are effective in reversing their course. If done well, individuals who have pivoted from this type can be great ambassadors and positive change agents.

Good Apples should constitute the majority of the workforce. We should tap into this type to help design a healthy and respectful workplace. They are role models, but hardly used. Organizations need to showcase their good apples to inspire good behavior.

I use the apple analogy because it is common, simple and easy to relate to. We don’t only have good and bad apples, there are few shades in between! I hope you find this blog beneficial in helping you yield the best of apples in your organization.


As usual, please reach out for any assistance. We have been involved in facilitating many discussions on sensitive topics, and are more than happy to help.


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