Before I trained as nurse, I worked for a while with children – boys seven to eleven – and I loved it. They were a great bunch, full of energy and fun. Most were very easy to work with but others were much more challenging. One day an older, wiser colleague took me to one-side to talk about the ones it was difficult to love.
The message was basically admit your feelings to yourself and then deal with them – find something good in the child and make sure that child never knows you think of them differently. Easy to say but not always easy to do – it gets easier with practice and if you think of the child’s needs, rather than your own.
I find the same thing holds good in teams. The reality is you may not like all people you lead. If everyone in the team is a team player it is much easier to handle. You’ll be working together towards a common goal and liking or not liking shouldn’t matter, if you stay focussed on the vision.
Working in a team, you learn a lot from, and about, your co-workers. Who exhibits the best leadership and how? Who drives everyone crazy and why? Who is a strong team player, who is a weak team member or, perhaps, who is not a team player at all
Of course, teamwork always works best when everyone is a team player. There is no “I” in team; this means that the team works collectively toward a common goal. If one team member is working for themselves alone, you won’t have a team. One person who is not a team player can spoil the experience and the results for everyone else.
If you are the team leader, you set the tone and are responsible for keeping the team intact. And here is this person, who makes you want to work around them and avoid them at all costs.
Well, the first thing to do is to follow the advice I was given. Admit to yourself you have a problem and, as leader, it is your for you to deal with. Don’t leave it until others feel awkward and start to complain.
Now, this is where we veer away from the rest of the advice I was given. You can’t keep quiet and just treat them all the same. You do need to intervene and talk to the person who isn’t engaged.
Talk to them and tell them what you see, as quietly and objectively as you can; it really helps if you come prepared with examples. Tell them about the effect on the rest of the team and on the work.
Then, give them an opportunity to tell you how they feel about the situation
See if there is a way you can work together to make a change. If they are in the wrong role, can they be moved? If they have the wrong skill set, can training be arranged?
What ways can you find to make them feel part of the team and draw them in?
Whatever your feelings, you must give them a chance to put things right. Remember that child? Here again, you need to think of the other’s needs and needs of the team, rather than your own.
I would welcome your own thoughts and your experiences of leading and managing teams. How did you handle team members you didn’t like? Are you honest enough to share your experience with us?
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- Teamwork: A dying skill in today’s business environment (worksurvival.wordpress.com)
- It’s Likely That Team Performance Is Determined Before You Start! (hrscorecard.wordpress.com)
- Be a Team Player! (intelligentofficemi.wordpress.com)