Is there a team member you work around?

June 11, 2014

work around

Is there a team member you work around? If so, take a minute to list your reasons. Did he betray your trust? What is it that you don’t like about her? Cite specific incidences that caused you to write this person off.

Now take a minute to consider the consequences of working around this team member. What extra work does it create for you? For others? What might be the consequences to the coworker you’re avoiding? How might it impact his or her work?

Work-arounds can weaken the org chart, cause triangulating conversations, and generally waste time. The organization’s culture and morale often take a hit, too.

In your case, are the consequences worth it?

Bear in mind that when we give up on someone, it’s often because we’re focusing on what they are not rather than what they are. They are not trustworthy, or they are not fast workers, or they are not thorough enough, or they don’t give proper credit. Based upon the consequences to us over time or a single traumatic episode, we code them as harmful and dangerous. We start seeing them simply as Bad. The more we repeat this message/myth to ourselves (and perhaps others), the harder it is to get out of this wheel track.

A simple look in the mirror should indicate that people aren’t all good or all bad, angel or devil. People may do bad or good deeds, but they’re not wholly good or bad. Your team member may have a disproportionate number of negative characteristics, habits, beliefs, or deeds, but is she really a uni-dimensional devil?

Make a list of this team member’s strengths, even if they are few. Is there a way you could play to his strengths that you haven’t tried? Have others worked successfully with this person? If so, how?

If the situation becomes untenable, there are really only two options. One, put the team member in a new role that might better use her strengths. Or, two, move this person out to industry.

Working around a team member undermines your leadership. It’s not a solution; it’s an admission that you’ve given up.

Don’t work around someone just because it’s difficult to work with them. Work harder to find a solution.

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