Team Player or Team Slayer

Team Player or Team Slayer

Man blowing fire in a warehouse


Team Player Or Team Slayer?

Beware. Some of the people on your team may be holding you back. Ask this tough question. You may be surprised at the answer.

Organisational change can be planned and executed elegantly and diligently. Yet the momentum may never seem to get off the ground. Often, this is due to the action, or deliberate inaction, of one or more select individuals.

Too many organisations tolerate, and continue to support, an employee who overtly or covertly undermines management. This action is fraught with long standing and severe dangers.

Recognising A Team Slayer

A typical team slayer may exhibit any of these attributes:

  • They take every opportunity to speak ill of management both inside and outside the organisation.
  • The employee operates at a tangent to the agreed and desired direction of the organisation.
  • They may take no action, when clearly it is appropriate to do so. At best, a telephone on a neighbouring desk is allowed to ring when it is appropriate to take a message.
  • At worst, they may be instrumental in allowing embargoed information to be leaked to inappropriate sources. These sources may use this information to compete with, or discredit, the organisation or its employees.

A team slayer can be found at the hub of every rumour mill. They may create doubt by inference about the reputation and trustworthiness of an organisation or senior management without just cause. They may use throw away lines like, “Well, if you knew the real story” or “I happen to know better and management are holding up a front”.

They may lack personal responsibility by always deferring concerns to management with no suggestion or willingness to rectify a situation.

Beware the ‘Carcinogenic Employee’

A carcinogenic employee is someone who has mutated to a point where they are no longer truthful with their colleagues, managers, and in an advanced form, even themselves. This is a person who gathers others into their group by inciting mutations within them. They must be stopped.

The cure is not always palatable nor timely for management. A hard line is necessary.

This individual ultimately needs to be excised from the organisation. To do this, we need to create an environment in which the individual can ask the right questions of themselves, with guidance, so that they decide to leave of their own volition. This will maintain the respect and dignity of both parties.

Beware the ‘carcinogenic employee’ who goes into remission. While this style of employee can be counselled and, therefore, appear to go into remission, often too much ill-will has been left in their wake.  Has their attitude changed, or will they slip back into old habits or mindsets?  This can be an anxious time for the employee and the organisation. It’s part of the process.

Take No Prisoners

Retaining a team slayer can have an immeasurable and devastating effect on your bottom line. You must take action. Make a move and take no prisoners.

An organisation can no longer afford the luxury of retaining an individual who is not at one with the purpose and values of the organisation. You have no time to lose. Damage has already been done. Ignore the temptation to retain this person because of any intelligence they may hold.

Ask yourself a most important question: How much is it really costing me to keep this person?

Make a list and put a value beside each item. Now consider the broader implications of that list and the cost to your existing personnel or customers. Had any good people leave recently, or in the past, because of the actions of this team slayer?  Perhaps you are too afraid to work out the costs. This exercise alone may make up your mind and create the momentum necessary to take action.

Retain Or Release?

First of all, a solicitor familiar with the laws of unfair dismissal needs to be consulted to advise on procedures that will protect the firm.

Apart from any legal advice, I suggest that the employee be counselled and given the opportunity to retain their dignity and respect – while also appreciating that the organisation must likewise be given the same courtesy.

The behaviour in question needs to be identified. The expectations of the organisation and of the employee must be clearly stated.

Discuss the strategies around the expected performance and attitude before forming agreements to move forward. If we agree that trust is the core of any worthwhile personal relationship, then once trust has gone, almost all is lost. Often, trust can’t be regained.

It is just the same in a business relationship. Once mistrust enters the equation, people become conditioned to look for inconsistencies.  This way of behaving is even more complex since we live in a world layered with anxiety and discomfort. This is not a productive, nor profitable way to have to live or work.

Team Player Or Team Slayer?

Take the question seriously, very seriously. Your responsibility is to instigate the action necessary for the longevity of the organisation and the ultimate well-being of every individual, be they team player or team slayer.

Allow the changes to occur with the impetus they deserve.  This will show support for those willing to see the organisation move into the next chapter of its life. Have the courage to recognise those that must go and support them into arenas that best suit their talents.

While you may not always hear it, a team slayer who moves on will thank you, in the long run.  They always do.

Written by Jill Sweatman

+61 (0)411 11 55 99

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