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How to Handle The Employee Who Isn’t a Team Player

  • October 5, 2020

In the corporate world, as everywhere, teams come in all shapes and sizes. Getting the right people into your  team can be challenging. When you onboard, you are looking for a good team ‘fit’ – attitude as well as aptitude to do the job.

For the most part, if you have followed due process when onboarding, your team should ‘gel’ well and work collaboratively.

But what happens when one of your employees isn’t a team player?

For example, you have a new, big client. You want your top team to work together on a case this client has given you. It will involve much collaboration, sharing out the tasks, visiting the client, days in court, etc. Everyone is excited to be part of this.

Your Managers and Senior Managers will handle the main workload and ensure duties are carried out; including documentation and attending meetings; even the graduate trainee is looking forward to experiencing being part of an exciting case.

But your new Manager who is in a pivotal role, is not engaging with the project at all. In fact, they are looking distinctly as though they wish they were somewhere else.

Are they just not team players, or is it something else?

The Pitfalls of Not Engaging Your Team

It’s a fact that people grow your business. If one or more of your team are disengaged, it will affect productivity and performance across the whole team.

Collaborative working may not be top of the priority list for everyone, but the job of a team is to move the business forward to success. The bottom line is that it is part of everyone’s job description – and that means working together.

TEAM – the rather cheesy acronym of Together Everyone Achieves More, does ring true. Handling a member of your team who doesn’t believe that collaboration and communication are the way forward can be a major challenge and one that you need to address – quickly.

So, what are the best ways to deal with your employee who just won’t join in?

Look for Hidden Reasons

As Stephen Covey advised, “Seek first to understand”.

It’s easy to leap to conclusions about other people who aren’t playing the way you want. You could dismiss your new solicitor as just lazy or being deliberately awkward in their unwillingness to work with the team.

But maybe there’s something else?

It could be that they don’t believe they have the necessary skills for the project in hand, or that they have a personal problem at home that no one at work is aware of.

They are only human – and problems can manifest in many ways.

So, check-in with them and give them the opportunity to explain if there’s a problem that’s stopping them from getting involved.

Check Your Communication is Clear

Make sure you are clear with your instructions and communications.

Is it possible that the individual has misinterpreted your intentions? Have you been clear?

Especially if you have more than one disengaged member of the team, it could be that you need to communicate your intentions more clearly.

So, make sure your expectations are transparent so that each individual knows exactly what their role is and what is expected of them.


It can often be the case that an employee feels disengaged because they don’t believe they are being listened to. So, consider talking less, and allowing them to voice their opinions, concerns and ideas.

By practising active listening, you will gain valuable insight into what makes them tick, and where the root cause of their disengagement lies.

You will also empower them, and they will be much more likely to see themselves as part of the bigger picture with a role to play. By engaging them in this way, you can also encourage feedback and offer support.

Acknowledge Their Work

Do you remember the last time a senior member of staff said ‘thank you’ to you for a job well done?

Receiving praise and acknowledgement is a sure-fire way to instil a sense of passion and willingness to do more in an individual employee.

The ‘win’ doesn’t have to be major; it could simply be a thank you for staying late to help finish a case or write up a report. But it indicates your appreciation of the employee and the part they play in your company.

Offer Development Opportunities

Whatever job role you have, sometimes the daily grind can seem just that. Let’s be honest, we all have moments where we feel bored at work; stuck in the same routine every day.

Mixing it up, where possible, will reignite enthusiasm in your team. So, send your Paralegal out to visit clients with a Solicitor, or allow your Legal Secretary to work on an extra project where they have autonomy.

Coaching or mentoring is a great way to get individuals involved and build up their confidence and skills.

By offering opportunities, either official training and development or just something a bit different in the daily workload will help re-engage disinterested employees.

Embrace Inclusivity

Inclusivity into a team and the business as a whole will ensure that each individual can see how they fit into the overall aspirations of the business and make them feel that they are contributing to its success.

As part of that inclusivity, it’s crucial to ensure that all staff are kept in the loop with the business’s news – whether that’s good or bad.

Good news will, of course, help engage and inspire, but not so good news is also important. Delivering bad news is never easy. But sweeping it under the carpet is a source of frustration for many employees – it can lead to a feeling of being kept in the dark by employers (and consequently a feeling of not being important) as well as leading to the rumour mills springing into action.

So, deal with news, whatever kind it is, by engaging your team, so you can all move forward together.

Be Aware of Social Styles

Finally, remember not everyone absorbs information in the same way.

The way individuals interact is known as their preferred ‘social style’, a phrase coined by David Merrill and Roger Reid in the early 1960s. It explores how people behave in social (or work) situations to ascertain how to predict managerial, leadership and sales performance and therefore how managers can get the best out of their team.

Spending time with your team will enable you to understand how each member prefers to interact and contribute. You can then use that information to moderate your behaviour towards them, making them feel more comfortable to make their contribution.

So, bear in mind that a disengaged employee isn’t a lost cause.

By utilising one of two of the suggestions in this article, you can help foster a culture of inclusivity where individuals are inspired, encouraged and motivated because they feel part of a bigger team and can see the role they play in contributing to growing your business’s success.

About Clayton Recruitment

Clayton Recruitment has been partnering with organisations across the country since 1989, and during that time has built up an excellent reputation for trust and reliability.

With specialist divisions covering Commercial, Financial, Industrial, and Engineering appointments, on a permanent basis. If you are looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

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The 6 (Easy) Ways To Build A High Performing Team This Year

  • February 7, 2019

Every company wants a team that performs well and critically delivers the results the organisation needs. Identifying, hiring, engaging and developing these individuals isn’t as easy as it looks.

Working with different personalities, agendas, and abilities to develop into a single unit devoted towards a specific goal is a task that requires exceptional focus.

So, when you want to build the most productive team for your commercial business, here’s where to start.

1. Decide On The ‘Ingredients’ You Need

In some circles, people call this finding the fit in other words matching roles to requirements. If your department has lots of team members, they will all have specific tasks that they are responsible for. It’s not uncommon that one or two key hires might be missing which leaves a gap in your teams’ capability.

This might seem logical and yet it’s not uncommon for some firms to limp along wondering why everything seems a struggle. When it might be that they need a customer service advisor, or a project manager to ensure everything is working like clockwork.

This needs to be your first start to ensure you have all the right ‘cogs’ in place to enable the engine to work effectively’. Depending on your growth plans you might be able to develop someone from another part of the business or more likely recruit someone into a specific role you create. This is where a recruiter versed in your sector can help.

2. Shared Goals

The goals your team have as an objective need to be clear. If your team doesn’t have a joint mission, then they’re just people working together.

Focused goals connect people as a unit, through passion and understanding. If you have multiple results in mind, then link them to objectives and priorities so that all the members of your team can begin to map their way towards success.

3. Set Clear Expectations

Research suggests that only about half of most teams at work understand clearly what is expected of them. If you want to develop a high-performing team in your organisation, then make your expectations clear from the beginning.

Whether you’re onboarding new hires or bringing internal employees together to work on a specific project, make sure that you highlight clear requirements during your first conversation with each person.

4. Be a Leader and Lead

You’ve heard the term “practice what you preach”, and that phrase fits perfectly into the professional world of business growth. Beyond any high-performing employee, is a confident leader. Think about how you can support your staff and guide them on your joint success journey.

A highly-engaged leader can increase engagement by 39% according to this CIPD report.

Considering this it’s then necessary too:

  • Focus on building commitment and trust
  • Be solution rather than problem orientated
  • Provide opportunities for all team members to achieve
  • Be accountable

No matter how skilled and adept your team members might be, there’s always a risk that they’ll run into a challenge or two on the road to success. The difference between most staff and high-performing groups is that the latter know which strategies to use, and which techniques to access to overcome these hurdles.

To reduce your risk of having to deal with constant problems or issues with productivity, set up a few established guidelines for what your people must do if they face a challenge with their work.

5. Provide Coaching and Feedback

The only way for a team member to know whether they’re performing well in their role is to receive consistent coaching and feedback from you, their leader.

Communicating with your employees can help them to understand what they need to do to improve their performance.

If a team is underperforming, it generally boils down to a few key things. It might be the wrong person in the wrong role or more likely an employee that needs coaching guidance and support.

People want to be successful they don’t want to fail. All they need is feedback and guidance. Deploy this strategy, and you will be amazed how quickly your results start to change.

6. Actively Appreciate Your Team

Finally, as human beings, we are happiest when we feel appreciated and recognised at work. The research department at Warwick University conducted a study to validate that happy employees are more productive. No surprises that the answer came out that the two are closely linked.

That being the case how can you appreciate your team? As I write this post, we are gripped by snow across the country. Maybe it’s hot chocolate all round or finishing an hour early.

Alternatively, how about a good old fashioned; ‘thank you, Amanda, I appreciate what you have done for the team this week.’

While creating a high performing team might not be a simple process, it is an incredible way to improve the profitability and potential of your company. If you can unite and empower your staff, then you can achieve anything.

About Clayton Recruitment

Clayton Recruitment has been partnering with organisations across the country since 1989 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability.

With specialist divisions covering Commercial, Financial, Industrial, and Engineering appointments, on both a permanent and temporary basis. If you are building your team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or

If you would like to know even more about building a high performing team this year you can download our latest guide here.

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Take your business up a level with a high-performing team

  • September 19, 2018

A high-performing team is what any employer would want. A high-performing team of efficient business professionals, that drives profits and gets results might not be as far off as you think. Building an attractive employer brand takes work; writing compelling job descriptions and creating an excellent culture is only the beginning.

Even before your new recruits join the company, high-performing teams require excellent leadership, support in their development and constant engagement. Our guide to high-performing teams tells you everything that you need to build one successfully.

Successfully onboard new team members

Building a high-performing team requires careful onboarding. There are two stages to this process:

  1. Establish what you want to achieve. You need to decide when onboarding will begin, what impression you would like to give to new staff, the tools that will help them do the job and goals you’d like them to meet. The most important thing to think about is how you will measure success and get feedback on the process. If you don’t have the information to work with it’s hard to make future adjustments.
  2. Put systems in place to achieve what you want. Prepare the essentials like security cards, work emails and computer equipment in advance. Providing information around basic housekeeping points such as where the loos are, tea and coffee facilities as well as who to approach with questions will help put the new recruit’s mind at rest. And don’t forget that a warm welcome will ease nerves. Let the rest of the team know that a new colleague is joining and to welcome them to the group.

High-performing teams need a high-performing leader

According to the Adair International Institute, a three-pronged approach to leadership underpins successful teams. Leaders need to manage the task, the team and the individual in order to get the best results.

The task needs to be clearly set out and defined aims must be communicated to the group. Research by EY into high-performing teams indicates that 44% of team members believe that clear, achievable goals are the most important factor in what makes a successful team. The group needs to understand the task to perform it well and leaders must ensure this happens. Providing resources, establishing responsibilities and offering feedback are critical at this stage.

The team needs support to achieve its goal and leaders can do this effectively by: equipping team members to deal with conflict, ensuring morale is high, establish standards of work, and develop leadership in team members. At an individual level, leaders must know all members of a high-performing team well. Awareness of strengths and weaknesses means leaders can effectively delegate and improve management of the high-performing team. This links closely to another key element of high-performing teams: how to manage support and training.

Support high-performing individuals, benefit the team

Awareness of individual weaknesses means that a leader can put in place measures to help them contribute to the team. Praise and recognition at the right time are beneficial in maintaining motivation.

Training is key to keeping the overall team on track. Seeing that an individual needs help in a certain area means training can be given to bring them up to speed. Managing the individual carefully benefits the team because each person has the skills to achieve the overall task aim. When new people come into the team, working with them to establish a plan for their development means you can cover all bases and fill in any gaps that might cause the team to fall short. And by improving the individual’s performance, you’ll get the very best from your employees.

Get the best from your employees

High-performing teams don’t happen by accident. Strong leadership from the top down keeps the team unified behind a common goal. Demonstrating integrity, inspiring others and problem-solving are among the top traits of an effective leader according to the Harvard Business Review.

There are three stages to getting the best from your employees:

  1. Clear expectations: Set out what you expect from the start. Provide definitive goals and milestones to keep the team on track. Decide how the goal will be measured and build deadlines into the process that break the goal down into smaller, manageable chunks.
  2. Consistent feedback: Feedback allows your team to keep adjusting and making continual improvements. Explain what you need from your team as the task progresses and encourage peer feedback, carried out in a constructive way.
  3. Motivation and empowerment: Show that you value your staff and their effort. Offer praise, reward and an all-important ‘thank you’ when targets are reached to keep employees motivated and focused on the task.

Employee engagement

Building a team of talented professionals means constantly engaging employees. Culture, employer branding, and effectively leading your high-performing team are all important. The crucial element is managing performance at an individual level.

This is where deep knowledge of the individuals that make up your high-performing team pays dividends. As soon as a new staff member joins your team it’s essential to understand their objectives. Engaging them with the work, the team and the task integrates them firmly into the group. You can increase engagement through an ongoing system of performance management:

  1. Individual fit with the team: Know what you want to achieve and communicate it to everyone. Make sure all team members are aware of how the goal relates to their role.
  2. Conversations are powerful: Communication builds trust and relationships which are both vital to high-performing teams. Engage staff in conversation about your vision, their development and keep coming back to the subject. That way you’ll not only engage employees you’ll join up their development with the rest of the team and business, which will strengthen the team.
  3. Agree S.M.A.R.T objectives: Unite team members who share a similar role behind a common goal. Make the goal ‘S.M.A.R.T’ – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound. By making use of their knowledge and experience on the job you can create something meaningful which engages individuals and enhances team performance.

High-performing teams take time to build and need a clear plan for success. Your efforts will be rewarded with a group of individuals that work in sync with efficiency and precision. Constant feedback, conversation, motivation and inspiring leadership ensure that your team move forward as one, performing highly along the way.

Interested in turning your staff into a high-performing team? Our ‘Ultimate Guide to a High-Performing Team’ has more and will explain in detail how to create a formidable workforce. Download your complimentary copy or call us on 01772 259121.

If you found this guide useful, please do take a look at our other blogs and guides and don’t forget you can register your vacancy online.

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