Marcia confided, “I avoid the team meetings whenever I can. They take way too long and drive me crazy. There are a couple of guys who go on and on about stuff that doesn’t matter.”
They might think they’re showing how clever they are, but they’re really showing they care more about themselves than about the team.
They are weak links and might not even realize it.
Could you be the cause of a broken link not know it?
We all engage in self-serving behaviors occasionally. After all, we’re only human. BUT if you are consistently focused on yourself instead of your team, it’s time to take a hard look in the mirror.
You can’t count on your boss or one of your teammates to let you know. Often people will complain behind your back, but are afraid to confront what’s going on.
Take responsibility for your own behavior and examine your motives before you speak. Are you more focused on yourself than on what’s in the best interest of your team? Look at your behavior. Do you consistently engage in any of these self-serving team behaviors?
Nine Common Self-Serving Team Member Behaviors
1. Criticizing or blaming: It is important to review mistakes in order to learn from them. But blaming others or putting people down does not lead to team learning.
2. Subgrouping: When you see yourself as part a subgroup that is “better” than others on the team, you divide the team into an “us” and “them.”
3. Detouring: When you go off on a tangent or go on at length about personal experiences unrelated to the problem, you take your team off course.
4. Blocking: When you arguing too much on a point or reject ideas without consideration, you block the team from moving forward.
5. Competing: Good-natured competition can be a fun way of advancing the team. But those who are vying with others to produce the best idea, to talk the most, to play the most roles, or to gain favor with the leader are focused on advancing themselves.
6. Horsing Around: A well-timed joke or good-natured comment can reduce tension. But too much clowning and joking is disruptive to the work of the team.
7. Monopolizing: Are you aware of how much you talk compared to others? Do you solicit other’s ideas? Do you push your own agenda or pet projects without considering others?
8. Unprepared: A pattern of coming to meetings unprepared, without having read materials that were sent ahead of time, arriving late or leaving early is a passive way of showing your team you don’t care.
9. Withdrawing: You might think that sitting quietly and not calling attention to yourself is not a problem, but being uninvolved, acting indifferent, daydreaming, or holding side conversations hinders team cohesion and deprives the team of your contribution.
Serve Your Team By Addressing Broken Links
If you’re not happy with the way your team is working, instead of engaging in these self-serving behaviors, serve your team by non-judgmentally putting your concerns on the table.
If one of your team members consistently engages in self-serving team member behaviors, it’s difficult to work around it. Most of us are guilty of some of these at one point or another. Everyone has a bad day sometimes. But ignoring an ongoing pattern of these behaviors will eventually torpedo the effectiveness of your team.
Excellent reminders for everyone to read! Thank you Jesse Lyn for this great article. Definitely sharing out. Have an awesome day!
So glad you found it helpful, Cynthia! Great to see you here.
This is an eye-opener! I have to admit that I’m guilty of #2. I didn’t realize how much harm it was causing. I’m going to share this with my team. I think it will help us have a long-overdue conversation. Thank you!
Excellent idea to have a team conversation! These behaviors are often interdependent. For example, a subgroup can form in reaction to others who are aggressive or monopolizing. Instead of silently rolling your eyes at each other, look at the entire team dynamics. It might help to start with a discussion of your team’s purpose or goals. When you share a common goal, it makes it easier to hold a conversation about how you’re working together to achieve it.
This is an article everyone can relate to. When I held a regular job I knew that I would never be the super employee, ultra talented, fast worker, creative, and highly skilled. But I could be the best team player, helper, knowledgeable, note taker, and excel at keeping teams encouraged. This list gave me a chance to remember what it was like to be on a team. That’s what I miss most about working. Team relationships.
Being a super team member is one of the best contributions one can make, and it’s what makes being on a team so rewarding. Don’t forget there are all kinds of teams – volunteering, places of worship, boards of directors, etc.
Great points, Jesse. To this point – Subgrouping: When you see yourself as part a subgroup that is “better” than others on the team, you divide the team into an “us” and “them.” Sometimes I have seen people do this to other divisions in the wider company as well so they see themselves as above others. Just as an example, the thinking, “We are in sales and therefore the real engine room of the business as we drive revenue growth!” Not helpful! Great post.
Great point! The larger team is the company, and so when people are focused only on their department, they are not serving the team.
Thanks for adding to the conversation, Jasbindar.
Very powerful list Jesse! Change never begins “out there” – it always begins with the one person we control – ourselves! This is an excellent path towards creating the change we want to see!
So glad you picked up that this is a post about personal empowerment. The better educated we are, the greater our personal power and the less our dependency on authority figures.
As I read this thoughtful article, I couldn’t help thinking about this question: “Where’s the leader of this team?”
SO GLAD you asked that question, John! Ideally the team leader would facilitate addressing these kinds of behaviors. But as you know, often the leader is either not aware of the problem it is causing or is aware and doesn’t want to deal with it. This post focuses on enabling team members to take personal responsibility for their own behavior without relying on the team leader. A team can never become high performing until each member assumes personal responsibility for the success of the team.
A very different perspective you brought to light for me with “Withdrawing”. It’s probably the silent assassin! It is an easy escape if one is frustrated by external behaviour one does not perceive as being that of a ‘team player’ (be it from one person or a subgroup of other people). So by being a victim, and choosing not to be confrontational for the sake of peace, you can actually do just as much harm to the team as you become withdrawn.
It’s about time I came back to the blog, and I have been away so long that the look and feel has even changed. Love it!
Great explanation of how withdrawing is as damaging as being aggressive. Love your term “silent assassin.” Great to see you back, Thabo! Your perspective always adds so much to the conversation.
The best leader is the servant leader. That’s the leader who has established mutually trusting relationships with team members, lays out the situation needing addressed, flushes out the objective(s) with the team, facilitates open discussions about options with them, probably gets consensus as to addressing the situation, and works to make resources available to carry out the plan. Oh, and facilitates plan revision when the likely hiccups occur!!!
Can’t believe I missed this post the first time around!!!
Great post as usual by the way!!! BUT:
Self-serving Team Member–>Oxymoron …
Thanks for weighing in, John. To build on your thoughts, I would add, the best team is one where all team members are servant leaders.