We’re a long standing and well functioning team… with a new uncooperative member. Help!

How wonderful to be part of a well functioning team. I am assuming that the team has worked together for a long time? If this is the case I will assume that all or some of the following are true for you as individuals and as a team.

  • You all know each other well.
  • Appreciate each others strengths.
  • Understand each others weaknesses.
  • You most likely support each other.
  • Are clear of your individual and team responsibilities.
  • Have a shared vision of where you are going.

When a team such as yours have been together for a long period of team members usually work in a collaboratively way and become less competitive with each other. There is mutual respect and support. This creates an environment where individuals within the team feel more confident to contribute, try new ideas and are confident to take on the responsibility of making and implementing decisions without having to constantly check in with each other or their leader. A well functioning team will often have the following characteristics:

  • Aligned sense of purpose.
  • Clear goals.
  • Honest and open communication.
  • A commitment to their role, each other and achieving their shared outcomes.
  • Defined and agreed roles and responsibilities.
  • A willingness to help each other out without getting caught in a ‘that’s not my job mentality’.
  • A high level of trust and respect.
  • Recognition of each others contributions.
  • Championing each other and each others achievements.
  • Strong leadership.
  • Agreed conduct / strategies for how the team operates and performs.
  • Effective team structures (team meetings, how to resolve conflict, review of tasks and celebrations).

Now, take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of the new team member, they have joined a well functioning team of individuals who get on well, who know each other and know how each other works. Depending on how the new team member was welcomed and integrated into the team will impact how they will feel about joining your team. This in turn could affect their attitude and performance.

Reflect back over your new team member’s arrival and ask yourself the following questions:

  • How did you welcome them to the team?
  • What did you do to support / integrate them into your team’s culture?
  • What does this person bring to the team that will add to the team’s success?
  • What can you now do to help this person become a high performing team member?
  • What conversations about performance and attitude do you need to have with this team member?

Take some time to identify the behaviours that are causing you concern with this team member.

  • How (specifically) are they being uncooperative? Are they aware of the impact they are having?
  • Are they performing their role to the level that is expected of them and of the role?
  • Do they have the relevant skills to perform their role?
  • What are your expectations of this team member? Have these expectations been communicated to them?
  • Are their behaviours in line with your company’s code of conduct?

Of course, if you have a good induction process, were welcoming of the new team member, and have already had discussions with them and they are still being uncooperative then it becomes a performance issue that needs to be dealt with in line with your company’s policies.

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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