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the troublesome team member

Have you ever worked with someone who was a disruption to you and the team? Did they undermine the value of the teams work? Did they disrespect the managers direction? Did they produce ineffective work that had an impact on other peoples time and work quality? Did they waltz in and out on their own time clock, irrespective of the team and client needs? Was their work so great, they adopted an arrogant approach to their teammates and contributed when they wanted to?

Whatever the behaviour of a troublesome team member, it is always felt by others in the team. It will always have a negative impact on one or more people in the team and the environment they are trying to develop and grow in. So how do you spot this behaviour and how do you coach the person and the team?

Depending on the location and culture of your team, it can be hard to pinpoint a troublesome team member. Identifying negative behaviours is often much harder than finding mistakes or areas of improvement in capability. Getting to know your team, their values, their motivators and what demotivates them is a great start when it comes to identifying positive and negative behaviours. By spending time with your team members and getting to know them well, you will be able to build trust and good understanding of why they might approach things in a certain way. Getting to know your team is not only the role of a manager but also the role of all team members. Getting to know someone well can provide you with more empathy and understanding when understanding why they approach things in a certain way.

Even if you have spent time getting to know people, you also need some behavioural boundaries. Do you have a Team Charter for your team behaviours? Do you have a team mission, values, cultural acceptances and team commitment to the organisations brand? Although many organisations have their own set of values, codes and missions, it can also be important to break these down for your team and unpack what that actually mean in practice for you and the individuals in your team. Maybe consider running a fun session on team behaviours and get the contribution and buy-in from everybody so people are clear on expectations from each other.

Once you have your behavioural boundaries and expectations, you know your colleagues well and you have built lines of communication, then accountability can be enforced. Without trust, respect and a boundary, it can be very difficult to provide feedback and request change in a person. And if a person does not feel respected or know their boundary it can seem unreasonable to enforce a change or even consequence for them.

So, before you empower yourself and others to resolve how you will work with those team members that are creating trouble and rifts in the team, reflect on how well you know the person and what is happening for them in their lives. Additionally, take some time to reflect on what collectively you done to ensure everyone in the team are being treated with respect and are operating within the same expectations and behavioural boundaries.

Return to the Teamwork Series

For a further conversation about coaching, please contact me: louise.bodlander@llbc.com.au or my contact page. 

May 2018