Team Vampires: Overcoming the Effects of Negativity in the Workplace

Halloween is just around the corner. My daughters are picking out their ghoulish costumes … one a princess and the other a dead bride (gulp). Seems as kids get older the scarier their costumes get, my princess is 5 and my bride is 10. By the time kids become adults they can get even scarier — some even become Vampires, and they wear their costume to work, everyday.

The changing season got me thinking about how to deal with negativity at work and stop the bite of Team Vampires.

If you are like me, you probably remember playing pickup games like street hockey or basketball as a kid. All the kids would line up and two “captains” would pick teams. The rest of the kids would stand in a line and hope to not be picked last. But, no matter how you picked the teams, there was always someone picked last.

Teams in the corporate world can take a very similar approach to “pickin’ teams.” Teams at work typically form in two different ways:

(1) You Choose Your Team Members

There is a limited pool of people to choose from. You have to choose from that pool, get your choices approved by their manager – the best ones are the busiest and will not be able to give your project full attention. You often choose the ones you like best or the ones you work with best. If you are really lucky, you get to work with someone who has the skills you need. But, there is always someone who wants to work on any given project that doesn’t get chosen and tension arises in the workplace.

(2) You Inherit Your Team Members

Your manager provides you with a list of people who are on your team or you join a team that has been in existence for awhile (i.e., OHS) where certain staff go to “hide,” because everyone has to be on a committee and they want to do as little work as possible. Maybe someone retired, quit, or staff was reorganized.

In both cases, there can be great teams that are a pleasure to work with all the time… right?

No matter how your team came together, getting and keeping people engaged is vital. When people feel threatened or devalued from being picked last, or disgruntled about the job – they can hurt a team. The apex of this is I call a Team Vampires, and as I’m sure you guessed they can be a bit harder to engage. Defeat Team Vampires to take the bite out of negativity in the workplace.

No matter which way you cut it, transitions are really tough time for teams. All teams go through developmental phases. Tuckman calls it “Storming,” and in some cases teams get stuck in this stage and it becomes “Tornadoing.” Find and engage an expert team facilitator to help your group renew itself and stop the storm. Only they can get you get back to work.

Teams form in different ways. Sometimes it’s about making due with what you have. But, it shouldn’t hurt to lead a team. Take the difficult first step to inspire changes and differences in Team Vampires so that everyone can get back to work. Your difficult, uncomfortable, and strong leadership move will have great ROI – but it could be one of the hardest times of your career. Let us know if we can help.

Header image credit: Hank Mitchell
David Goldstein

Founder & COO

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