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What To Do When A Team Member “Goes Rogue”

August 29, 2014

keepcalmteamI was standing in the line up for Starbucks early this morning before boarding my flight to Denver when I overheard two leaders behind me talking about each of their teams.

The first woman says, “oh my god, Jane has gone rogue on me” and the second woman says, “what did she do?” and the first woman says, “she completely bypassed me with a decision and when I confronted her about it she got upset and told me I was a micro manager”.

I smiled to myself – I have been working with leaders for over two decades now and the ongoing common challenge for many leaders is aligning team members with vision and goals. Many leaders get frustrated and irritated that “team members are going rogue”.

For me as a leadership consultant I know that its never about the surface behavior -a team members behavior is always about more than meets the eye.

So what is really going on with a team member who ‘goes rogue?’

There are a number of factors in creating a high functioning team and as many factors in keeping a team in a high functioning state.

Let’s assume that you have created a high functioning team and now you are working to keep it that way- often leaders will move on to other priorities once they have a team in place and ignore small signals that a team is getting off course.

The signals include individual agendas, puffed up egos, constant push back to your authority, and passive aggressive behavior such as saying what they think you want to hear to your face and then going behind you to do what they want.

The key to keeping the team aligned is constant and ongoing communication both in team meetings and individually. Typically if you are a leader who uses the coach approach with your team members in that you have regular ongoing meetings about projects, team objectives and individual contributions to team success then its likely your team remains high functioning. It’s when these coach approach elements are missing that individuals begin to ‘act up’.

There are factors such as different generational attitudes and personality style sthat leaders need to consider when coaching team members- Generation X and Y are happiest when they have autonomy and a sense of ‘shared leadership’ versus working for a dictatorial style leader.

Personalities such as a Driver personality or a Socializer personality tend to be high ego and have a need for high recognition. If these personality types do not get positive attention often his or her behavior can resort to negative attention getting tactics.

It is highly likely that if you have a team member who has gone rogue it is because:

  • The person is not getting recognized for his or her contributions and is seeking attention
  • The person has not had clear guidelines given on ‘team behavior’ and ‘shared leadership’
  • The person has not had a discussion with his or her leader about the consequences of behavior
  • The person is not receiving ongoing coaching from his or her leader

As organizations and their leaders move towards increasing the empowerment of individuals to support customer value there is a higher need than ever before to create and grow sustainable teams. Teams are made up of individuals and they need clarity, communication and coaching as the key elements to build personal success strategies and to be high contribution team members.

The last thing I heard the second lady say as I ordered my drink at Starbucks was, “why won’t Jane do what you tell her to do?……” and it struck me that there was a better question “what could you do as a leader to get Jane back on track as a key team player?”



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