What do I do about an uncooperative staff member?

When you have a long standing and well functioning team, how does a team manage with one new uncooperative member?

Being part of a long standing and well functioning team you get to enjoy many benefits that a new team who are still forming do not. Trust has developed and you have emerged from the Forming, Storming and Norming phase of team development and are now in flow in the Performing phase.

When a team such as yours have been together for a long period of time team members usually communicate more effectively with each other, become less competitive and work more collaboratively together. In this environment team members feel confident to take on the responsiblity of making and implementing decisions.

A successful and strong team has certain characteristics, what are the characteristics of your team? These could include:

  • Trust and respect for each other personally and professionally.
  • An understanding of each team members strengths as individuals and as a team.
  • Structures and processes.
  • Clear communication.
  • Shared vision and goals.
  • Shared values and purpose.
  • Clear understanding of roles and responsibilities.

Now take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of the new team member, they have joined a well funcitoning team of individuals who get on well, who know each other and know how each other works. The team understand each others strengths and weaknesses, their values, vision and purpose. What is this like for them?

How have you integrated this person into your team? It took time for your team to get to where you are. Have you allowed time for the new team member to become an effective and accepted member of this team? Have you communicated and shared the characteristics of your team with the new team member and how these characteristics help to define your team and helps with team unity?

What specifically is the team member doing that is un-cooperative? Have you had a discussion about the impact they are having with them? Or do you talk amongst yourselves, therefore excluding this person?

There are benefits to a new team member joining a long standing team, what benefits does this person bring in skill and perspective? It may be useful to come from this place for a constructive conversation with your new team member about your expectations and how they can become a more effective and valued member of your team.

“A team is a group organised to work together to accomplish a set of objectives that cannot be achieved effectively by individuals.” – Educational Leadership Toolkit.

Pollyanna Lenkic is the founder of Perspectives Coaching, an Australian based coaching and training company. In 1990 she co-founded a specialist IT recruitment consultancy in London, which grew to employ 18 people and turnover £11 million ($27 million). In this blog Pollyanna answers questions from our readers on issues they are experiencing leading or being part of a team.  She offers insights on teams and team dynamics. For support and information on team days run by Perspectives Coaching see here. Her previous Blog for SmartCompany, 2nd Time Around was about the mistakes she made and the lessons she learned building a business the first time round and how to do it better second time round.


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