ASK : “Not everyone is a team player. What should a team do when a member is more focused on individual performance than the team’s goals?”
APPLY : In a previous management role, my compensation was influenced by the team’s collective performance. Consequently, individual members could achieve better results if they shared resources and opportunities. We were rewarded for giving business away to the teammate whose skill set gave the team the best opportunity to forge a partnership with the client. If everyone behaved unselfishly, our chances for maximum compensation were increased. Since everyone on the team had different strengths, we gained advantage by knowing each other well and deploying work accordingly. Most of the time, this model functioned as designed. Every once in a while, however, one of us would give in to our selfish motives and exercise a decision based on self-interest. Because it was outside of our consensus norms to behave this way, our own recognition that we had violated the team’s rules occurred faster than the barrage of corrective reminders from teammates could be delivered. In the end, we held ourselves and each other accountable.
ACT : Normalization sanctions both healthy and sick behaviors. Teams make active and passive choices to either confront or accept conduct that falls outside agreed upon expectations. Why would anyone choose to permit behavior that hurts a team? Sometimes the violator has enough influence that a confrontation is costly. Other times, the infringement is so small it’s just not worth the discomfort of accountability. So, the violation becomes passively allowed and the expectations are effectively adjusted to accept that new level. Whether by power-play or by passive acceptance, long-term integrity is sacrificed for short term comfort. Set the tone of your team with intention. Your rules of engagement only support you when they are engaged.