top of page

Dealing With Difficult Team Members

Not everyone is a team player, and there are times when you will face difficulties while working in a team. Difficult team members can reduce team morale, affect other team members' development, impede productivity and create a state of resentment. This is often because of their unacceptable behaviour as well as their poor work ethics. According to Healthline, it is best to possess a structural plan to communicate the situation to ensure the team's desired outcome. However, how you approach this issue is crucial because it not only rectifies the problem if handled correctly but it also helps the team grow together.

Photo by Cherrydeck on Unsplash

Why is it important to acknowledge the problem?

According to LinkedIn, dealing with an unpleasant situation ahead of time is crucial, as it may prevent many issues that would have caused complications for the team. As determined by Healthline, avoiding conflict may negatively affect your health over time. Also mentioned by Healthline, ignoring the discord only creates more stress which results in increased anxiety. To get to the root of the problem, as suggested by Psychology Today, acknowledging what the other person has to say before giving a solution is vital to any difficult situation, as you can comprehend the whole situation better to provide an effective solution. Entrepreneur mentioned that identifying the type of difficult team member is equally as important as it helps you know how to approach them better.

Taking a step back to analyse what was said.

According to Exploring Your Mind, taking time to think strategically before speaking is crucial as this helps you determine the appropriate following action. This works best when you have been actively listening during the conversation. What is active listening and why is it important to comprehend it? As stated by The Balance Careers, active listening is carefully processing what was spoken and not intruding on the speaker. It was also stated that active listening is more about listening to understand and not listening to reply. Examples of active listening, according to The Balance Careers, include asking questions to seek clarification, using nonverbal indications such as eye contact and expressing by using words of affirmation such as “thank you”, “I hear you” and “I am here for you”. Once the leader has spoken to the difficult team member, it is best to have an open conversation as a team. According to Psychology Today, effective communication is vital for a team to function in the best way possible.

Determine the best approach.

Providing solutions for difficult team members requires good problem-solving skills. According to Verywell Mind, problem-solving is a mental course of action that includes uncovering, examining and ultimately, solving the issue. Once the solutions have been conveyed, seek clarification from the difficult team member if there are better ways to enhance the suggested solution, and this is often when collaboration skills are tested within the team. Successful collaboration skills include accepting different ways of thinking, respecting each other and last but not least, practising effective communication, states The Balance Careers. It is best to work together as a team to resolve an issue rather than alienating the difficult team member. According to Healthline, depression, consumption of alcohol and feelings of helplessness can be compounded by alienation. As explained by Verywell Mind, an unhealthy workspace in any field has a detrimental influence on one's psychological, emotional and physical state of health.

Implement the plan.

After the team has decided on a strategy, it is time to put it to action. According to On Strategy, the implementation of a strategic plan is just as vital, if not more so than the strategy itself. The Balance Careers states that a shared vision should resonate with all team members to make them feel elevated, inspired and content. As stated in LinkedIn, a safe space is needed for a team to function to the highest optimal level to execute any project. According to LinkedIn, psychological safety is based on interpersonal psychological aspects such as social connection, trust, reciprocation, communication and honesty. The strategy cannot be rushed and it takes time for change to occur. As mentioned by Psychology Today, patience makes difficult tasks more enjoyable. Impatient individuals, on the other hand, experience stress and unproductiveness when put under pressure. Change takes time to manifest, and patience is required.

Importance of a follow-up.

It is critical to follow up with the difficult team member to determine whether the situation has improved. There is only so much you can do to assist in this situation. Healthline says that change can only occur if an effort is made by taking the appropriate steps to improve. If the situation is at a standstill, it is advised to approach the person who is in charge of the given project to get clarification on the next steps. As stated by The Muse, requesting extra help is not easy, but it is fundamental when you require further assistance on a specific issue. If there is progress, it is paramount to let the members know that their efforts are valued. According to Psychology Today, when individuals feel appreciated, they become more considerate, less combative and more willing to assist others.

It is by no means a smooth process to cope with a tough group member. Taking precautionary measures and having a proper structure in place to deal with the situation will always benefit the team. Synergy among team members is essential for ideas to take root and become reality. Performing a symphony, making scientific discoveries and flying to the moon are all great feats of mankind made possible only through collaboration and the strengths of many people coming together.

By Reshma Kavtri


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page