3 Tips For Dealing With Difficult Team Members So You Can Finally Achieve Your Goals

3 min read · 7 years ago


I’ve quoted Kung Fu Panda before when talking about Top Teams – seems like there’s a lot to be learned from a misunderstood panda and his team of very different Kung Fu masters. You have to wonder what the creators of the film were thinking when they put together a tiger, monkey, praying mantis, viper and crane under the guidance of a red panda and then tossed in a giant panda. What I do know, is Grand Master Oogway, the wise old tortoise said something that we can apply in business:

But no matter what you do, that seed will grow to be a peach tree. You may wish for an apple or an orange, but you will get a peach.

Can you imagine how much could change in the teams you work in if everyone accepted that you can’t change the core of a person? They will be what they are. And if you accept them for the strengths they have, you’ll be able to move beyond challenges and achieve the collective team goal far more often and with far less pain.

Here are 5 tips to help you manage “difficult team members” – though if you go with Master Oogway’s teachings – there are just team members. There are no easy or difficult.

1. Get Everyone to Agree on the Bigger Picture

If you really get everyone to agree on the collective goal of the team there’s no way anyone is going to try to make things difficult. After all, you’re all working towards a common goal right? In the High Performing Team spiral this is the goal side of the blue phase. I’ll have more of this later on this week. I can hear some of you saying that there are always people who even though they’ve agreed to the big goal, they just don’t cooperate. Well, if you have this siutaiton ask yourself:

  • Did they whole heartedly agree to the team goal? If yes,
  • What’s the core reason why they seem to be causing trouble now?

Answer these, and you’ll find the solution to your problem.

2. Agree on Individual Goals and Put Pressure on Achieving Them

One reason I often see disconnected teams is that even though people know what the bigger picture is, they don’t clearly know or understand the role they have to play. I understand that this is a relatively common sense step to take but if you’ve got a difficult team member, chances are they

  • Either don’t know what they should be doing, or
  • Don’t understand why they’re doing what they’ve been assigned.

I think the second one is extremely important to answer, especially for those team members that initially may seem like the quiet or passive ones. They agree to their tasks initially but have a deep rooted sense of dissatisfaction, especially as the project progresses onwards.

3. Remember – This Too Shall Pass

By this I don’t mean to ignore the difficult team members, if you do that you’re going to end up negatively affecting the team goal. By this I mean, don’t get so involved in the complications of others that you get caught up in their negative aura. You must strive onwards, doing the best in the role that you have to play. But remember,

  • Time softens the blow of all things – even the harshest words said between team members.
  • Everyone is a piece of the puzzle – any missing piece will create an incomplete picture.

So if tough words have to be said to make everyone come together, do it. Just keep it non-personal, always professional, and with the best intentions for the team in mind.

There are so many more tips I can give on this topic like don’t be the know it all or pick your fights and ignore the petty issues. The bottom line is that if there are difficult team members, then everyone needs to point their fingers at themselves and figure out why dissatisfaction is present. Only then, will you be able to create a fully aligned team.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: 3 Tips For Dealing With Difficult Team Members So You Can Finally Achieve Your Goals

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