Are You a Toxic Team Player?

What kind of team player are you?  Of course, we all say that we work well on a team when we’re sitting in a job interview, but if you were being completely honest, how would you rate yourself?  Do you make a solid contribution and support the other team members in their tasks, or does your presence actually bring the team down?  Usually the most toxic team members don’t even realize that they are causing harm.  Take a look at some typical bad behaviour and see if any of it sounds familiar:

Gossiping:  Gossip creates division and distrust within a team.  Don’t be naive enough to think that your coworkers don’t know that you’re gossiping about them; they know.  Gossiping implies judgement, and judgement creates distance.  Instead of gossiping about your colleagues, make an effort to support them and communicate with them directly.   

Complaining:  Team members who are always complaining are a constant drain on the team’s energy.  Nobody wants to hear it.  If you’re not happy with the way that things are going, make an effort to change it.  If you can’t change it, then either accept it or find a new job.  Life is too short to waste it complaining.

Blaming others:  What is your first response when things go wrong?  Do you automatically start scrambling to find someone else to blame?  Do you often find yourself pointing the finger at a coworker?  When you are quick to blame, it rapidly destroys any camaraderie that you have built within your team.  Everyone is too busy covering themselves to offer anyone else support.

Allowing others to do most of the work:  Are you pulling your weight?  Are other team members forced to work harder to compensate for your performance?  Just because someone is willing to do extra work, doesn’t mean that you should allow them to do so.  Every team member should do even more than their fair share to ensure that the team achieves its goals.

Withholding information:  Do you intentionally keep information from your coworkers and your manager in order to maintain power?  How would this impact the team if they needed that information and you happened to be away from work that day?  When you intentionally withhold information, you are acting in bad faith, and you are putting your own insecurities ahead of the needs of your team.

Displaying a lack of integrity:  Do you ever behave in ways that are not exactly honest?  Have you ever changed paperwork or a report to make it look more favourable?  Have you ever deleted an e-mail to hide a mistake that you made?  While you may not think that it’s a big deal, behaving dishonestly at work breeds distrust throughout the team.  Moreover, if you get caught, you could be fired.

Most toxic team players believe that they are they are a strong asset to their team.  They are completely blind to their bad behaviour.  Try to be a little more self aware.  We all have weaknesses, but if you are honest with yourself, you have the opportunity to correct them.

(Written by: Karen Bivand, Photo from:  Sweet Crisis/

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