One of the realities of teams is that it takes only one individual who is not in alignment with the rest of the team to significantly impact the unity of the team. This can be a result of any number of issues. For instance, they:
- may not be in agreement with the direction of the team or organization
- do not pull their own weight in terms of productivity and results
- may have attitudes that are counterproductive to a healthy team: cynicism, sarcasm, lack of trust or some other unhelpful attitude
- may like to do their own thing and are not committed to working as a productive team member
- may have Emotional Intelligence (EQ) issues that disrupt the health of the team
- may not be teachable or coachable
- may be very smart and successful but will not cooperate with others
- may be a team leader who does not know how to lead
Ministries often ignore these situations in the name of "grace." We hope they will go away, but they rarely do without intentional and direct intervention. When we do not resolve these negative behaviors we unfairly punish the rest of the team who must live with the unhealth of one member, and we hurt the missional effectiveness of the organization.
If you have a situation where a team member is not in sync and is hurting the team, consider these options.
Provide very direct and immediate feedback in person and follow up in writing indicating the problems and the necessary changes that are necessary of they are to continue to play a role on the team and in the ministry. Be direct, honest and defining. Indirect communication is unlikely to work in these situations.
Establish time parameters in which the issues must be resolved or they will be placed on a probationary status. If they need additional coaching during this time, provide it and always give honest direct feedback verbally and in writing.
If there is not adequate progress, place the individual on a probationary status (in writing - always document) with the understanding that if there is not appropriate resolution they will not be able to continue on the team or with the organization.
Be willing to let them go and transition them out of the organization if they do not meet the requirements of the probationary period.
Your willingness as a leader to take appropriate steps in cases like this sends a powerful message to the rest of your team that you care about their health and the health of the organization. When one does not take these steps the opposite message is sent - and clearly read that our organization does not take health seriously. Other staff have reason to be unhappy if unhealthy, emotionally unwell or unproductive team members are left in place. What it says to the rest of the team is that they are not valued. Lack of action also fuels cynicism toward leadership and their unwillingness to deal with situations that are at odds with organizational values.
The emotional and energy toll that is paid for allowing an unhealthy team member to continue is higher than we realize until the issue has been resolved and we finally realize the price we paid. Don't allow one individual to pull the rest of the team down.