I think that it is important to get the right people on your team and sometimes it is necessary to get the wrong ones off. The making of a good team has a lot to do with the relationships built between the people on the team. However, relationships are not always positive. As Fullan (2001) wrote, “relationships are not ends in themselves. Relationships are powerful, which means they can also be powerfully wrong.” Aligning yourself with a negative person can bring you down both personally and professionally, even if you are not negative yourself.

I am fortunate to work with mostly positive people, but I have been in a situation where I had to work with a negative employee. I remember feeling “stuck” as I was forced to listen to her go on and on about what was wrong with our employer and company. I didn’t know what to do besides try to avoid her. I found an article that gives some advice on what to do when working with a negative coworker. “Long term complaining saps your energy and positive outlook. Don’t allow that to happen. Walk away. Tell the coworker you’d prefer to move on to more positive subjects” (Heathfield, n.d.).

The right supervisor may be able to turn that person’s negativity around. The coworker I was referring to became positive on her own when we got a new supervisor. Her outlook changed and I never really knew what happened, but our new supervisor was a great listener. I always felt like he validated my thoughts and concerns. Miller (n.d.) wrote, “Relationships in the workplace are complicated, limited, and not necessarily the best method of defining the real person. Individual relationships are unique from person to person and new managers should be wary of any press about their employees, negative or positive, until they have had time to do an independent assessment of employees’ skill set and performance.”

Unfortunately, not all negative employees change for the better. The wrong person for your team is someone who refuses to change or whose behavior gets worse. When “efforts to deal with a problem employee are met by disinterest, disengagement, or even worse behavior, that’s a good sign that things won’t necessarily get better” (Faus, 2013). When there is no hope for improved behavior after attempts to get the employee’s attitude to change, the employee that needs to be removed from the team.

References

Faus, A. (2013, August 12). 5 Signs It’s Time To Fire Your Problem Employee. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2013/08/12/5-signs-its-time-to-fire-your-problem-employee/

Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Heathfield, S. M. (n.d.). How to Deal With a Negative Coworker: Negativity Matters. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from About.com Human Resources: http://humanresources.about.com/od/conflictresolution/a/negative_worker.htm

Miller, T. (n.d.). Turning a Negative Employee Into a Positive Asset. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from T-Empowerment Coaching: http://www.t-empowerment-coaching.com/ezine_articles_positive.asp

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8 thoughts on “When the following statement is true: “Get the right people on your team, and get the wrong ones off.”

  1. You’re right that having a positive team is important. I think that if there is a wrong person on the team, their behavior can change once they feel valued and feel a part of something.

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    1. I agree. I think everyone wants to be wanted and needed. It’s about feeling valued, like you stated. I see it in my students in my classroom too. They love to be needed and it is a huge boost to their self esteem.

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  2. My normal mode is to be a problem-solver so sometimes I get sucked in by the negative energy of others – I keep trying to listen, talk it out with them, help them to see different perspectives or offer suggestions. Sometimes others acknowledge they are just having a rough time adjusting and other times you start to get the feeling that this is their typical outlook on everything. I will remember now to walk away and set some boundaries without making it personal. I also agree, sometimes the wrong person is having a hard time adjusting to the change process and needs more time, support, and experience to be able to adapt successfully. And then there are those times when leaders have tried everything within their means and yet the wrong person continues to display “disinterest, disengagement, or even worse behavior”. I wrote in my blog this week that wrong people need to re-evaluate their motivations and commitment to their team and organization and recognize when they have outgrown or drifted away from their current environment. This isn’t always a bad thing, it’s normal for us to grow and change when we gain more experience, skills, and knowledge so sometimes we need to take that and move on so we can become the right person again.

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    1. I agree that people can outgrow their work environment and need a change. I had a friend who went through that earlier this year. She was with a company for 17 years and finally it just got to be enough for her. She was tired of always feeling unappreciated and unwanted at her job. She had a long talk with the owner and they both agreed that it was time for her to find something that challenged and excited her. I wish more people had that self awareness. My friend has a new job and is really happy where she works now. She also kept her personal relationships with the people at her previous place of employment.

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  3. I have been on a few different teacher teams (PLC’s). Like you shared in your blog I too worked with someone who was very negative, and the teacher would complain about students and parents. It was so toxic and a total waste of time. Everytime we had a PLC I would think there went 30 minutes of my life I will never get back. I was new to the building, so my strategy was to ask questions that I wanted answered to change the subject. It all worked out in the end (I got a job at another school), but if I had stayed there I would have had to come up with a way to change the negativity.

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