How To Spot The Clues That You’re Dealing With A Wrong-Fit Team Member

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Clues You’re Dealing With A Wrong-Fit Team Member

As originally published on Forbes.com

Sometimes it’s crystal clear. A team member has done something very wrong, like stealing or harming someone. Most symptoms, though, are much more subtle, and it can be easy to miss the signs that things aren’t as they should be.

Knowing what to look for lets you quickly take care of the problem before too much damage is done.

These 12 clues are clear indicators that a course correction needs to be made.

Does anyone you work with currently display any of these symptoms? Can you afford to suffer the result and cost to the rest of your team and to your business?

1. They’re focused on status.

This team member will do anything to get ahead and forward their own career, often at the company’s expense. I’ve witnessed this in a leadership role, where the person was busy building their own brand, not the company’s.

Cost: Politics and silos. Instead of working as part of a team, they’ll put their energy toward building their own power base and reputation — energy that’s consequently not focused on growing your business.

2. They’re clueless.

This team member exhibits a startling lack of self-awareness in how they come across and overestimates the value of their contribution. Attempts to enlighten them are met with a total lack of comprehension.

Cost: Roadblocks. It’s time-consuming and challenging to help them make the changes needed to become more effective — doubly so because they don’t see themselves as a problem and they’re resistant to change.

3. They’re dramatic.

Though sometimes entertaining (but not for long), this person creates unnecessary conflict and emotion around small issues and takes things personally, pulling everyone off task.

Cost: Distraction and loss of focus. Drama is highly distracting, wasting the time and mental and emotional energy of everyone involved. It also diverts people’s focus to nonessential issues.


Read Shannon Waller’s Multiplication By Subtraction book to learn more about the 12 disruptive wrong-fit symptoms you’ve learned. Understand why it can be difficult to take action, get practical strategies to use when things aren’t working, and if needed, gain a process for gracefully letting go.


4. They’re entitled.

This team member is more focused on the rights and privileges they think they’re entitled to than their responsibilities. Unfortunately, they’re often a top performer who feels they’re owed more.

Cost: Resistance. They’re hard to satisfy and won’t “take one for the team.” You’ll spend time bargaining with them to get things done because they won’t contribute unless they get something in return.

5. They’re uncooperative and noncollaborative.

These people are really tough to work with and aren’t open to other people’s input or suggestions.

Cost: Stalemates. Team projects get stuck, and decisions aren’t made because they insist on doing things their way. Going against them results in a guaranteed power struggle that will require your intervention.

6. They’re arrogant.

The team member who thinks they’re the smartest and most valuable doesn’t leave room for anyone else’s contribution. They see others as being less important instead of as valued team members.

Cost: Disempowerment. When one person thinks they have all the answers, they don’t recognize the value of other people’s input. The result is a disempowered team that doesn’t feel valued and may even stop contributing.

7. They lack integrity.

They feel the end justifies the means, and there’s no need for them to honor their word or live up to expectations. Often, they assume others don’t have integrity or are out to get them and act accordingly.

Cost: Lack of trust and teamwork. Trust is the basis of effective teamwork, and when someone can’t be counted on to look out for others or do the right thing, it compromises the whole team. Be hyperaware of this clue because it can take everyone down.

8. They’re lackadaisical or disengaged.

They’re not excited about their work, where the company is going, or anything else. They just show up. They don’t put in much effort or creativity and produce only enough to get by.

Cost: Mediocrity. The rest of the team feels like this person is dragging them down, and they’ll start to bypass them. This is a major clue that they aren’t doing the work you’re paying them to do, which is an expensive drain on your budget.

9. They’re oppositional.

They’re always argumentative and tend to disagree with new innovations and improvements. They put up roadblocks.

Cost: Friction. I’m not suggesting team members should say yes to everything if it’s not genuine, but I’m a big proponent of eliminating friction where possible. It leads to polarization within the team, slowing or preventing new ideas and improvements from being implemented. You’ll experience a loss in efficiency, morale, productivity, and profit.

10. They’re not accountable.

This person doesn’t deliver the goods. They’re also skilled at covering their tracks and diverting attention from themselves, so no one is sure what they’re doing or not doing.

Cost: Loss of momentum. When counted on to deliver key information and results, they’ll always have an excuse for why it’s not done. People end up covering for them, which eventually wears down the team.

11. They can’t keep pace.

This team member’s ability to learn and execute is just not fast enough, slowing down everyone else as a result. They don’t have the mental horsepower, skills, experience, or intelligence to properly perform in your environment.

Cost: Drag. This can really slow down the team because the person eventually becomes a roadblock to getting things done in a timely manner. The growth of the whole team and that of the company suffers.

12. They’re not adaptable.

Your organization is changing, but this person is not changing with it. The team is increasingly having to work around this legacy team member.

Cost: Resentment. As your right-fit team aligns around your bigger future, this person stands out as a burden that everyone else must carry.

Awareness And Confident Action

The purpose of this list of clues is to increase your awareness about some of the most disruptive behaviors that interfere with great teamwork and, as a result, your confidence about taking immediate action.

I would caution you never to underestimate the cost of not dealing with a wrong-fit team member and the drag that inaction ultimately has on your company’s results.

About the Author

Shannon Waller

Shannon Waller, Entrepreneurial Team Strategist, is a natural collaborator who instinctively saw that a thriving Unique Ability® Team can strengthen their entrepreneur, the business, and themselves. A win-win-win. Go, team, is Shannon’s rallying cry.

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