The Complainer. The Bully. The Slacker. The Gossip. The Slob. The Flirt. The Drama Queen. Sound like the cast of characters from Glee or Mean Girls? Unfortunately, these personality types don’t exist only in TV-land or the movies. You’ve probably also run across at least one of them at your workplace.
So, what can you do to turn uncooperative coworkers into team players? According to Len Markidan of Groove, the best way to get people to help solve your problems is to assist them in seeing why doing so helps them win, too. So, forget about the drama these "characters" have caused and take a close look at why they act the way they do.
Try to empathize. Do they appear to be lazy because they simply can’t keep up with your company's fast-paced work environment? Do they put down other team members because they are insecure about their own skills or job security? Do they leave a mess lying around because there are no established protocols for filing or cleaning up at your company?
Is there something specific you can do to make the office a more rewarding place for them and, ultimately, a happier place to work? Try to identify people’s needs, then align their interests with your own.
If your goal is to create a first-class experience for your client or customer, identify what that means to you, and make sure all members of the team know what they need to do to ensure this happens. Then help your difficult coworker or employee understand how he or she will benefit from this outcome, too.
One way to do this is to provide a reward to incentivize your team members to do what needs doing to stay motivated. While many employers incentivize employees through cash rewards or bonuses, money is not always the optimal motivator. Overtime bonuses become expected, even demanded. In order to prevent teammates from feeling entitled, incentives should instead be tied to accomplishments, which builds self-esteem, motivates and rewards.
These rewards, based on accomplishments, drive "philosophy of ownership thinking." Team members feel more responsible for the work they produce and a greater connection to the team as a whole.
These relationships ultimately help build a better culture. I've worked for many offices that rewarded team members with trips, or a cruise or a cash bonus. This gave the whole office a goal to reach and, in turn, created a team mentality of accomplishment. Uncooperative coworkers "bought" into the group mentality of responsibility and became team players.
In the end, it’s about having the right people on your team. As Jim Collins wrote in his classic book Good to Great, leaders of great companies “start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus and the right people in the right seats.”
He continued: "If you have the wrong people on the bus, nothing else matters. You may be headed in the right direction, but you still won’t achieve greatness. Great vision with mediocre people still produces mediocre results.”