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How to Manage a Talented Non-Team Player

by American Management Association 12. September 2010 23:00


In modern business collaboration is essential…and a worker who simply doesn’t want (or know how) to be a team player can often disrupt team chemistry if not managed correctly.

What can you do?

Short term: Create a niche he or she can fill successfully and productively

Long term: Encourage the individual to modify his or her behavior.

To integrate the individual into the group, play up peer pressure. This person may march to the sound of a different drummer, but he or she needs to understand that their behavior can cause ill will and negative feelings from other team members. A change would move this person closer to the center of the group, reduce co-workers’ resentment, and eliminate the uncomfortable us-versus-him attitude that may exist now.

Point out the reality of the situation. While praising the individual’s experience, special skills, and length of service, emphasize that everyone is expected to collaborate. Corporate culture revolves around teamwork…and anything less threatens the success of the entire work unit.

Assign your lone rider to work that will further the team’s goals without having to interact closely with other members. For instance, the individual could research problems, locate resources, or evaluate certain projects in advance and recommend actions that the team may take.



Thinking Management


9/28/2010 5:11:46 PM #

I know some wonderful professionals who told me between us ''they like to work alone''and they are not ''team workers.'' I realised some viewed working in group or surrounded with others as team work. I told them they will be best team players when they contribute their unique talent to the team result and goals, (highlighting what they are and how they help) and they seemed to like that explanation.

Liliana Serbia and Montenegro (Former) | Reply

10/8/2010 2:30:32 PM #

Teamwork is important to successful organisations. However I can appreciate Liliana's comment because there are some persons who are not comfortable working in groups and would prefer to work by themselves. I have also found that some persons do not know how to be a part of a group or team and the suggestions given would help them learn. The barriers that these "loners" experience is sometimes not due to their lack of willingness to being a part of a team but they have never been taught how to be a part of a team. I observed this when my 8th Grade nephew was given a failing grade for a group assignment which he did by himself. This kind of situation does not promote team work and the value of team work neither did the teacher have a strategy for dealing with the situation. I had to have a talk with the teacher about her rubric for evaluating the assignment (she had none).

michael Jamaica | Reply

12/23/2010 12:36:27 PM #

Business coaching helps owners of small and medium sized businesses with their sales, marketing, management, team building and so much more. Most importantly, just like a sporting coach, your Business Coach will make you focus on the game.

Person analyse United States | Reply

3/3/2011 4:02:29 PM #

How do you work with people who have ADHD and develop their talents and value to organization. Any thoughts?

John Kosic United States | Reply

3/3/2011 5:18:39 PM #

Great question, John. Just like managing your other employees, managing someone with ADHD comes down to finding what stimulates—and what motivates—that particular employee.

Employees with ADHD can be motivated by their own sense of urgency. For example: instead of assigning your employee a large project with a deadline weeks or months away, try taking a project and breaking it down into smaller tasks. Give each task a concrete deadline. This should create a sense of urgency behind the project and motivate your employee. Remember to check in with them before each deadline arrives. Make sure your body language and words are not focused applying pressure but on working together to make the project a successful one.

Here are a couple quick tips for the day to day management:

Some ADHD employees find a quiet environment distracting. So if in the office, all your employee hears is the hums of their computers and the clicks of keyboards, it will be incredibly hard for him or her to focus on the task at hand. Allow your employee to use headphones, or move him or her to a more social part of the office.

Also (touching again the concept of urgency and deadlines), organization and scheduling are difficult for an employee with ADHD. Help your employee break his or her schedule and workload into manageable chunks, instead of piling it on and expecting him or her to cope. A “to Do” list might not be as effective as a daily calendar that helps make them aware of where their time is being spent.

One final thought:

While managing an employee with ADHD may require more attention than some other employees, there is a potentially remarkable upside. Studies have shown a direct link between ADHD and increased creative thinking and problem solving (see link below) skills. Just something to think about…

American Management Association United States | Reply

3/3/2011 4:04:34 PM #

Great topic! It's generally worth exploring why the individual doesn't want to be a team player. Is the individual shy and very reserved? Is the individual insecure about his or her own value? Does the person not respect the other team players? Did the individual previously work in a cut-throat environment where team members didn't collaborate well? Better understanding the reason and situation helps to identify a solution.

That said, the suggestions above are great. While all the ideas are good ways to handle a challenging situation, the last recommendation may actually be the most behavior-changing. Identifying a role for the "lone rider" that contributes significantly to the team's success helps establish mutual appreciation between the individual and the team. Depending on the reason the lone rider resists collaborating, a growing sense of valued participation may lure more cooperation.

Beryl Loeb United States | Reply

11/5/2011 7:12:15 PM #

Pingback from

Bookmarks for November 5th from 22:21 to 23:06 «  Mark's life | Reply

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