You’re committed to building a work environment of collaboration and teamwork—a work environment in which all your employees work together to reach common goals. The problem is, you have one employee who simply doesn’t share your team mindset.
That’s where it may fall to you to step up and show some leadership—proactively working to bring that employee into the fold and instill in him or her the central fact that, in your business, teamwork is non-negotiable.
But how do you manage these lone wolf employees? How do you show leadership in the face of an absolute defiance of teamwork initiatives?
Working with Lone Wolf Employees
A few basic steps:
- Make it clear what your corporate values are, and what your values are as a leader. Offer public praise and affirmation to employees who do exemplify the team approach you’re looking for. And for employees who don’t like to work with the team, offer some private corrective counseling. Simply make it clear to them that—again—teamwork is a non-negotiable.
- Take a firm stand. This doesn’t mean you have to be needlessly aggressive. What it means is that you shouldn’t sit around and hope that the employee will have a change of heart. You’re going to need to address the issue head-on. Explain to that employee that part of the job description is supporting the team—period.
- Provide clarity on all projects and assignments. Make sure teamwork is implicit in all the work you provide to lone wolf employees. Don’t tell the employee to do X; tell the employee to work with Beth, Dan, and Sally to complete X. Again, the goal is to leave no question that teamwork is mandatory.
- Listen to the employee. Allow the employee to explain why he or she doesn’t like working on a team. It may be that some additional training or resources are needed, or perhaps just that the person is an extreme introvert—in need of some assignments or projects that better utilize that particular skillset.
- Ask other employees. Privately approach other employees and ask them for their take on the issue; it may be that the employee in question has been doing solid work, but in a more solitary context—and ultimately, you may decide that there’s no problem with that. Then again, your other employees may feel like they are shouldering too much of the workload, and that’s obviously problematic.
The bottom line is that there will come a time when you have an employee who just isn’t a team player—and that’s when showing some real leadership will be necessary.
Dr. Rick Goodman CSP is a thought leader in the world of leadership and is known as one of the most sought after team building experts in the United States and internationally.
He is famous for helping organizations, corporations, and individuals with systems and strategies that produce increased profits and productivity without having the challenges of micromanaging the process. Some of Dr. Rick’s clients include AT&T, Boeing, Cavium Networks, Heineken, IBM, and Hewlett Packard.