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In today’s business environment team work is everything, and teams, of course, come in all shapes and sizes.

You might be managing a team currently or working as part of a management team tasked with delivering a critical project.

You assume everything will go okay, I mean we are in the era of collaboration in our hyper connected world; aren’t we? Then suddenly you have a less than favourable interaction with ‘Michael’, and it happens more than once.

It’s concerning as you are tasked with accelerating the performance of a project team, as their new manager in a business-critical unit.

You then realise that both Michael and ‘Jessica’ appear to be disconnected from the whole ‘team’ ethos and vision you want to create.

Welcome to the world of handling colleagues who just aren’t team players!

There’s a saying that the word team stands for: Together Everyone Achieves More. Cheesy though it may sound, the sentiment is true.

Here at Excel Communications, as global leadership trainers we often work with teams that are spread across the world and where collaboration and communication are pivotal to success.

Unfortunatley for whatever reason it could be that Michael, Jessica, or both don’t share this view.


The Many Downsides of Team Players Like Jessica And Michael

On numerous occasions on this leadership blog, we have discussed the fact that people grow organisations. Therefore, Jessica or Michael will impact productivity and performance unless their behaviour is addressed.

Team members don’t have to like teamwork. They don’t even have to believe that the formation of the team was a good idea. However, team members are supposed to do everything that they can, within their roles, to make the team successful.

That is their job.

When an employee doesn’t act in a way that promotes teamwork, you as the leader need to address the issue, and fast.


Listen, Watch and Base Your Actions on Fact

Be careful not to make assumptions and judgements!

If you are managing a team with specific time sensitive goals, it’s easy to ‘assume’ Michael is ‘just lazy’. Especially as you realise your project is already delayed and, great leader that you are, you are feeling the pressure.

Michael may not be lazy at all. He could have a lack of skill or be suffering from a personal situation you aren’t aware of.

Don’t simply write this person off. In the words of Stephen Covey, “seek first to understand”.

You are potentially making assumptions when you don’t have enough information.



Many managers avoid tackling Michael or Jessica altogether, or when they do it’s way down the line and their behaviour is impacting the whole team. Be clear about the team’s goal and vision and the behaviours that will achieve the outcome.

I love questions; they’re one of the most powerful ‘tools’ on the planet.

Curiosity is key! Keep those assumptions under check and avoid an accusatory voice tone. “Tell me more…” is a great open, inquisitive lead in.

Be brave practise discernment and ask yourself first; “have I been clear?” If you have a number of disengaged people in the team, it’s likely you will need to re-establish and re-communicate the goal and vision.

Ensure everyone knows what his or her role is and that they will be measured. As a young manager many years ago, I was reminded not to confuse lack of knowledge and understanding for indifference.

If knowledge and understanding is the issue, there are logical next steps any manager can take to improve the capability of these individuals.


The Coaching Conversation

If you have clarified the situation, communicated your, goal provided training and development and there still isn’t a shift – it’s time for a coaching conversation.

Often a simple coaching conversation will be all they need to understand how they’re being perceived, the impact they’re having on the rest of the team and what they can do to change this.

One of our programmes, Social Styles, can help individuals identify their preferred communication style and the styles of others. Participants can then use this knowledge to develop far more effective, productive and harmonious working relationships.


What Next?

Fololw these simple steps:

  • Base your actions on facts
  • Seek first to understand
  • Communicate clearly and often
  • Be clear on the vision and goals of the team
  • Train and develop
  • Coach to resolution


Best regards

Nic Hallett



About Excel Communications

Excel Communications has a 30+ year history as a global leadership and communication skills organisation dedicated to exceeding the expectations of clients, through the training and development of their business and people.

We have a team of expert trainers delivering programmes across four continents in multiple languages. Isn’t it time you got in touch? Call us now on +44 (0) 1628 488 854.