Employee doesn’t work well in a team

I have an employee who just will not work well in a team, as an individual his work performance is excellent but once tasked with working within a group he creates tension and refuses to work with a number of individuals. I do not wish to dismiss the employee as he is a consistent worker but I'm not happy about his attitude to team work.

Employees who work well but have a bad attitude can create as many problems within organisations as the employee who is consistently absent or the one who breaks rules all the time. Therefore, you will need to address this because it is obvious that he is having a detrimental effect on the other team members.

The first approach is to gain more information about the situation to find out if there is any real reason for the employee behaving in the way he does. Facts are very important in this situation because they will enable you to make the right decision about how to go forward so you need to ascertain, as much as you can, the employee’s truthful position.

Ask the employee to come and speak to you but do this in an informal setting so there need be no-one else there, for example in a note taking capacity. You should explain your perspective of the situation to the employee and attempt, by asking the right questions, to gain an understanding of his position and why exactly he acts in the way he does.

You should be prepared to be sympathetic in case the employee reveals information to explain his behaviour that you had not expected. There may be, for example, allegations of bullying or some other cause for a breakdown in relationship with other team members that you were not aware of.

If there is no specific cause for his behaviour and it is simply an attitude problem, tell him firmly that you expect him to be professional and carry out the duties as you have instructed him to do so. Explain the repercussions of his behaviour in terms of productivity and quality of work and that if his behaviour continues, you may need to instigate a formal procedure.

Further reading on employee engagement

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Peter Done

Peter is the founder and group managing director of Peninsula Business Services, established in 1983.

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