90 Percent

Project management, productivity, change management, and more!


Team player… or not?

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TeamWhile you work with different teams during your career, you will notice some people are more concentrated on their own outcome rather than the team’s. It may not be apparent at first, or it might be completely obvious, but here are some ways to spot someone who isn’t much of a team player:


1. Finger pointing

This one is easy to notice; a team player will say “we made a mistake”, “we should have done this differently” but someone who looks out for themselves will not want to be part of whatever seems negative and will rather point fingers or look for someone to blame: “he made a mistake”, “I don’t know why we did it that way, I was just following what he told me”, etc.

2. Weird/unclear communication

A team player will always keep in mind his team when communicating, meaning he was asses how he should communicate which type of information, and will carefully select each word to avoid interpretation. In other words, a team player will put himself in the other’s position.

Now, someone focused on themselves will not be able to put themselves in the other’s position, this means they will communicated in any way they feel appropriate for them:

  • Using the wrong tool for the specific type of information (chat, email, PM tool, etc);
  • Communicate out of context: They can’t necessary understand the fact that you are not in their mind, and cannot put themselves in your place, so they will send you half the information, thinking that you will understand because they do;
  • Will throw all information so they can say “I told you….”: Whether it’s while talking, chat, email, you will get splattered with information, and if you miss anything, you are sure to hear to infamous “I told you that….”;
  • Simply not informing the team: If they have the information, then it’s good for them, so you may have to grab the information yourself.

3. “It’s not my job”

Role clarity is very important, and focused on their own roles will of course give a greater outcome to the project. However, it may happen that sometimes people have to go beyond their role for the good of the team. A team player will jump in anytime, he will even offer to do a task that’s not his to do.

Here, it’s relatively easy to spot a non team player, since you will probably hear something like:

  • It’s not my job;
  • I could do it but it shouldn’t be me;
  • I have the information but I shouldn’t be the one communicating this;
  • etc.

4. Can’t admit errors

Teammates will often apologize for mistakes, or at the very least admit they were wrong; but someone looking out for themselves will simply not unfortunately.

Luckily, it doesn’t mean they don’ know they made a mistake, which means they might still learn from it, and avoid repeating it next time. To help out, without being guilty of item #1 above, you can suggest how the team can learn for next time by saying “we” instead of “you/he”.

In conclusion

People who are not team players are concentrated on themselves, therefore it can be tricky to work with them when their role is needed inside the project. It can impact the project in a negative way, but, if the outcome of the project affects how they will look in font of others, it may also have a positive impact on the project since they will make sure to look good.

If you think you are a team player and you are guilty of what’s above, you may want to start being careful, it can drastically change how your team looks at you.

Are you working with people who aren’t team players? Share your stories.

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