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On Or Off The Team?

What do you do with a team member who doesn't seem happy on the team? What do you do when that unhappy team member fails to meet your standards or perform to your expectations?

Whenever this has happened to me it's been cause for deep concern. Why on earth won't they get on board? What are they waiting for? And, then I've learned that sometimes a team member's biggest obstacle to success is me. For one reason or another we've confused our messages, twisted our signals, and started on opposite paths unnecessarily.

The best place to start - if it's possible that I'm part of the problem - is in dialogue. Talk it over. Think through the situation. Find out the perspectives of the person involved. Reach agreement on building the start of an ongoing conversation that includes what I call the CLUES to Success:


  • Create agreements
  • Listen with curiosity
  • Understand the facts and the feelings
  • Express yourself positively
  • Share responsibility for success
When we're both able to agree to these guidelines conflicts are much more easily resolved, expectations are much more easily clarified, and agreements are much more likely to occur. It could take time, it could take patience and it could take training. When willingness overcomes reluctance, almost any improvement is possible. When reluctance rules though, it could be time for a different conversation.

If a team member is not willing to agree to the CLUES to Success as a way to improve communication and performance, then it's time to get really curious about why. What stands in the way? What does that team member truly want?

Sometimes, what that team member truly wants, and needs, is the fastest dignified exit from the team. As leaders, it is our job to help them with that, too.

Successful supervisors find ways to engage detached team members or help them find their way off the team.

Because there's no room on any team for detached and unwilling team members.


-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership: Training Supervisors for Success

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals



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