How to Deal With a Non-Cooperative Group Member
Having an employee or colleague in your small business who is uncooperative or unwilling to commit to teamwork can be a frustration. It can also lead to resentment among other staffers and reduce morale. Left un-checked, non-cooperative group members can hamper workplace productivity, alienate clients and cost your business revenue and profits.
A non-cooperative group member could be in the dark about the way her performance and attitude is hurting her colleagues. Talk to the employee in private and address your concerns. Describe specific examples of non-cooperation and explain the resulting negative impact. Approach this initial meeting in a non-confrontational manner and focus strictly on facts. Give the offender time to respond to your criticisms and offer an explanation for her behavior.
If the non-cooperative group member appears to be unaware of her poor behavior, and expresses a desire to improve, help her establish specific goals for becoming a participating and contributing member of the team. This might involve creating measurable objectives such as cutting down on the number of complaints issued by associates by being more cooperative. It might also include helping her improve communication with colleagues by demonstrating the proper way to discuss differences, interact, and negotiate. Follow up at regularly-scheduled intervals to assess progress.
If the non-cooperative group member is defensive or denies any behavioral problem, issue a formal warning with specific directives and consequences. Develop a written plan for actions that need to change -- such as loud or abusive language -- and a timeline for gauging progress. If the employee is open to conflict mediation with colleagues, arrange for this to take place. If the issues seem to stem from a lack of training or ability, reconsider other areas of the company where the employee might be better able to utilize her skills, or offer job training to help her improve her performance levels.
While the non-cooperative group member is working on improving her skills, help other employees find ways to support their colleague in her efforts. To leave the issue unresolved could result in resentment from employees who feel over-burdened in assuming the work responsibilities of their underperforming colleague. Your employees will appreciate the fact that you are addressing the issue and looking for solutions.
If all efforts to engage the non-cooperative employee fail, you should consider terminating her employment. Make sure you document your efforts to assist the employee in improving her performance so you create a substantiated case for termination. In conducting your termination, reiterate your attempts to rectify the problem and point out the employee’s continual failure to comply with your requests.