As leaders, we rely so much on teams to accomplish the myriad of things that must be done. For some of our folks, team work comes naturally and they thrill at the challenge of using their skills and creativity in conjunction with others to create a synergistic result. But my hunch is, we’ve all experienced those individuals who just don’t play well on the team. It can create havoc, result in missed deadlines and disastrous interpersonal relationships, and eat huge holes out of your limited time as you struggle to patch the holes these disruptive team members cause.
What if you were able to quickly identify why certain team members weren’t playing well with others, and through that discovery, know immediately how to fix it? Here’s a model that might help!
There are basically only five reasons team members don’t play well on a team. Any of these five reasons can be masked by poor or inappropriate team behavior … but the good news is, you can actually provide what is needed to improve four out of the five! Take the time to evaluate why a team member is acting out:
If they don’t know WHAT they are supposed to do, you can sit down and clarify roles and expectations.
If they don’t know HOW to do it, you can identify the appropriate training, coaching, or mentoring.
If they don’t know WHY they are doing it, you can clarify how their role impacts the overall success of the team, and how the team’s work supports the overall mission of the organization.
If they are NOT CAPABLE of performing the role they have been assigned, you can look for ways to resign roles, set up some pairings to give the person someone to help them, or have the person moved off the team to a place where their skills are better utilized.
Now comes the tough one! If they just plain WON’T do it, you are dealing with a team member who is actively disengaged. Their negative attitude, cynicism, and disruptive behaviors are dragging the whole team down. You can talk with them about their attitude issues, but I strongly recommend you begin documenting performance issues so you can get this person off your team and out of your organization as quickly as possible! Do not be tempted to simply move them to another department, where their distractive attitude can continue to create problems. By releasing them to find a work environment better suited to their needs, you are not only helping them … you are giving a huge gift to all the other, actively engaged members of your team. You will be glad you made the effort!