Breaking Bad: Turning Negative Coworkers into Team Players

There’s always one bad apple in the barrel – that one employee at work that’s always complaining and raining on everyone’s parade. But, you don’t have to let that one person bring down the whole company.

Breaking Bad: Turning Negative Coworkers into Team Players

While you certainly can’t fix every bad employee – you might have to fire them – you certainly can try to reform them. Here’s how.

Institute Team-Building Exercises

Team-building isn’t something everyone enjoys. Even your best employees might sigh at the idea of having to interact with people in unrelated departments or with people they may not get along with in their own department.

But, team building and leadership training builds stronger employees. Good teams are well-trained and coached. Business improvement workshops might also help, and can be extremely effective in regards to improving processes while also improving team members’ morale, inherent strengths, and weaknesses.

Cross-Training Of Team Members

Not every position on a team is equal. Some team members may be tasked with more or less-difficult tasks. That’s why it’s important to cycle employees around so that they are all trained in several jobs. This can become an asset for the company, but it also makes every employee more valuable to their team. Finally, rotating tasks prevents boredom and fatigue and might also help reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries.

Institute an Improvement Cycle

If the team never improves, it starts to stagnate – not good. In a system cycle, results are always communicated back to the team. With an improvement cycle, the team isn’t waiting for the completion of the project to receive feedback. It gets it periodically throughout the project. Regular feedback encourages innovation and improvement.

This is obviously good for the company, though it’s often used by middle and upper management as a way to use negative reinforcement more often than is needed. Really, employees are much more motivated through positive discipline. Reward good jobs when merited, and encourage employees to focus on their own motivations for completing their work. This will produce much better results than an obviously negative “performance review.”

Set Team Goals

Team goals allow even the most negative employee the opportunity to change things and set realistic expectations. Allow the team to vote a team captain or get feedback from everyone on what goals should be. The team should have clearly defined and shared goals, with members being committed to excellence. Everyone must agree to learn from mistakes, and seek continuous improvement.

Keep Teams Small

By keeping teams reasonably small, you encourage both individualism as well as teamwork. Studies show that the ideal team is small, no more than five or six members. This is especially true when motivation and coordination are important to the team and the company.

The team should have everyone it needs to accomplish its objectives and no more. There’s no wasted space in the team and everyone must pull their own weight or the entire team fails. This helps “bring up” ornery employees who are always complaining about everyone else’s work because they’re often the ones that need the most help.

About Jeremy Sams

Jeremy Sams has years of on the job experience in human resources. From hiring the right people to managing employee satisfaction, he enjoys blogging about effective strategies for a healthy and productive workplace. Visit the page for more team building ideas.