4 ways to deal with a difficult team member

The question of how to deal with a difficult team member will always be in the spotlight. Confronting someone regarding their behaviour is not a task anyone enjoys doing, but there are certainly ways about doing so that can lighten the blow and make the experience not as cringe-worthy or uncomfortable for either of you.

Effective team work isn’t something which just magically happens, it takes compromise amongst workers to understand each other’s work methods and approaches. If this is not done, it can often create a hostile work environment.

Being able to work successfully as a team is a trait often desired amongst employers and businesses, however relying on all your team members to have the same work ethic as you, is a different story.

So what do you do when a team member or employee isn’t quite up to the standards they should be? We’ve highlighted some simple solutions, and teamed them with the perfect team building activity:

It can be as simple as a coffee and a chat…

It may sound an obvious one, but keeping things simple and slightly more casual can take the sting out of the situation, even if just slightly. Becoming more casual is a great answer of how to deal with a difficult team member.

Suggest going for a coffee as there is something you would like to discuss. Before diving into a rant about how you feel and what they’re doing wrong, ask them how they think things are going.

It’s imperative to maintain a calm and professional when discussing a touchy subject that a colleague or employee could easily take offence to. With this in mind, it’s also important to remain to the point and not convey that their behaviour is OK.

The Vault

Communication is key when mastering The Vault. Set in a museum, teams must navigate throughout the area to disarm a countdown timer that will get them caught. Fun and challenging, this activity will bring out the laughter and perseverance amongst your team.

Do you own part of the problem?

Self-reflection is often a tricky task, especially when it involves identifying our own mistakes. As well as this, it’s extremely easy to blame others yet deflect self-blame. If you are having a problem with a colleague or employee, it’s always worth asking – “Am I contributing to this problem?” and “How do I deal with this difficult team member”, and if not, are you making the problem worse for yourself?

If you’re a manager of a team and identify members who might not be reflecting the work ethic you would like, remember that the energy and tone you put-out can often be adapted by those around you. If you are a negative manager, constantly critical and offer little praise, your team members will certainly pick up on this and most likely mirror your attitude.


small group grouped together doing an exercise in the Activate team building activity
Group working together doing an exercise in the Activate team building activity

If you want to highlight your team’s dynamic and identify its strong and weak spots – Activate is the perfect team building activity.

Providing serious insight and learning for your team, Activate is both fun and highly constructive. A mixture of problem solving and goal setting activities, the activity is catered and designed around your desired outcomes and work ethic.

Building stronger personal-professional relationships

When identifying a difficult team-member, rather than immediately judging, try to understand why it is they’re doing what they’re doing. Having empathy can go a long way; maybe they’re going through a personal struggle, or there’s something in the work place which is bothering them, too?

By building personal yet professional relationships with colleagues can transform a work place into somewhere people feel happy and content, simply by being around their co-workers, thus improving worker motivation.

There’s no harm in injecting some work place fun!

Break Out Challenge

 small group with bandana's and tattoo sleeve counting money in the breakout challenge team building activity
Breakout Team Challenge activity – people with bandana’s and tattoo sleeve counting money

Teams will identify themselves as prison inmates, create their back-stories, and then work together through a number of hilarious and strategic challenges to break out of prison. The Break Out Challenge suits a wide range of ages and abilities, encourages leadership, and the closest you will ever (hopefully) get to experiencing a real-life Shawshank Redemption!

Submitting a formal complaint

Sometimes, there aren’t any other options available when dealing with a difficult team member, and seeking third party help is the only option.

If a colleague or team member is making your work-life an unhappy one, it’s not worth suffering in silence. Speak with a senior member you trust, and explain how your environment at work has been transformed into a negative one, due to the behaviour of said colleague.


group of people with their hands in together as a team break in the Accountability team building activity
All hands in together as a team break in the Accountability team building activity

As the name insinuates, Accountability is designed to identify responsibility and accountability amongst teams. This highly insightful and interactive activity can be catered to you and your team, would you rather focus on holding others to account? Personal Responsibility? Setting SMARTer goals?

The exercise and material presented in this exciting activity is drawn from the work of noted psychologist David McClelland who studied the psychology of Achievement.

If you and your team would like to take-part in a fun and informative team-building activity, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to offer our expert advice to set you up with the perfect team building activity to match your work ethic and desirable outcomes. Available all across Australia, get in touch today and let the fun begin!


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