During one summer while I was in college, I worked on a local farm.

The most tedious work I did took place once cherries were in season.

I would wake up before the sun was up and spend countless hours laboring in the orchard under the summer sun.

The old man who hired me had given me explicit instructions to pick every single cherry off each tree.

The good cherries would go into my basket.

The bad cherries would get tossed to the ground.

This didn’t necessarily seem fair since I was paid for the ones in my basket and not for the ones on the ground.

The elderly farmhand insisted that if the bad ones were not picked off, they would not grow back in the following years.

Because of the farmer’s logic, I found it funny years later when people used to blame co-workers for “cherry-picking” – going through the list of tasks needing to be done and picking the easiest tasks for themselves instead of doing them in the order they were received.

How was this considered cherry-picking when I PICKED EVERY SINGLE CHERRY!?!?!

Origins of the Term “Cherry-Picker”

When researching the origins of the term, I found out it was actually based on the perceived process of harvesting the fruit.

The picker would be expected to select only the ripest and healthiest fruits.

Someone seeing only the selected fruit may be given a false impression – one where most or even all of the tree’s fruit was thought to be in very good condition.

Similarly, the “cherry-picker” at work may have given the false impression that he was a very good worker since he appeared to be very productive to those who didn’t know what the worker was actually doing.

Short-term, “cherry-pickers” can look like strong performers.

Long-term, as their game gets uncovered, they must be dealt with, or they can cause considerable damage to those around them.

Perfomer or Poser?

It is for this reason, to determine if one is really a performer or just a poser, we need to look at the root and see if they do indeed bear good fruit.

Here are five key things to look for when trying to determine if someone is a performer or a cherry-picker:

1. Inconsistent Performance

Performers are both persistent and consistent.

On the other hand, a cherry-picker often exhibits inconsistent performance, standing out in tasks that require minimal effort while avoiding more challenging duties.

2. Lack Of Initiative

Performers are action-focused. They proactively seek out problems, identify them, and find solutions.

On the other hand, cherry-pickers may show a lack of initiative when it comes to taking on new or difficult tasks.

They prefer to stick with what they are good at and avoid stepping outside of their comfort zone

3. Disregard For Team Dynamics:

Performers understand the importance of teamwork and collaboration. They actively contribute to the team’s goals and help others.

Conversely, cherry-pickers tend to prioritize their own interests over those of the team.

They may avoid collaborating or assisting others and focus only on tasks that benefit themselves.

4. Shifting Blame

Performers take responsibility for their actions and mistakes. They admit when they are wrong and work to make things right.

Cherry-pickers, on the other hand, tend to shift blame onto others or make excuses for their behavior. They avoid taking responsibility for their actions or lack thereof.

5. Incomplete or Delayed Work

Performers understand the importance of meeting deadlines and delivering quality work.

They manage their time effectively and ensure that all assignments are completed on time.

In contrast, cherry-pickers prioritize easy tasks and may leave important tasks unfinished or delay their completion. They often fail to meet deadlines or deliver subpar results when faced with challenging tasks.


Don’t get me wrong.

Even the best performers can have a bad day or a bad week.

Their performance might slip for a period of time.

They may act passively on some occasions.

They might not mesh well with some team members.

They might not always want to take responsibility for their actions.

They might even miss a deadline.

No one is perfect, and even the best performers can miss the mark from time to time.

But if you notice a consistent trend with the five traits outlined, you might have yourself a cherry-picker to deal with.

1 Comment

  1. Appreciating the persistence you put into your blog and detailed information you provide.

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