Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Motivating Your "Difficult" Team Member

In a leadership role within your association?  Then your job (whether it is written in the job description or not) includes motivating your team.  And not just from time to time, successful organizations motivate daily.

Here are a few things you can do to motivate your "difficult" team member:

Got Problems Internally?  Don't Shy Away - Deal With Them!

Whether they are constantly calling in sick, on their phones texting, or simply not engaging in team meetings, don't wait t address the situation until there is a significant pattern; or perhaps waiting for someone else to notice, deal with them.  If you let it go with that ONE individual, others will notice, and possibly follow suit.

Be Objective (Even When It Hurts)

If you are frustrated, you can make rash decisions, that may affect everyone else's day, and roles.  If you think that your personal opinions may get in the way, then instead of worrying about whether or not any sort of bias will show, gather a team of managers - those who work directly or indirectly with the individual to conduct a review.  Base any conversation on facts, and see if there is a need for any additional training.  The individual may not have learned a particular skill in the way they needed to in order to be effective, so allow them the time to respond to any issues.

Have the Conversation

Tell them how you (or your management team) feels.  But allow them the time to express their position too.  The conversation should include both sides exploring ways to solve the issue.  But don't expect a resolution right away.  In many cases, you will have to allow some time to think about possible avenues, to formulate the best decision and critical path.


Now that you have had your conversation, and have both agreed to the right plan for the situation, don't just move on -- your employee may not know where to start in order to fix the issue.  Help them explore job-shadowing, professional development, or set aside time weekly to go through the parts of the job that they are simply not "getting".  Following up is more than just an ongoing, conversation, is action.

Recognize the Change

After the time invested on both sides, hopefully you will see positive change.  At this point, some leaders just "move on" to the next issue, but don't allow yourself to re-focus on something else without recognizing your team member's efforts.  It can be a simple chat, or some other reward that you deem appropriate.

What else could you be doing to motivate and change a difficult team member?

Image courtesy of artur84 at

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