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Halloween is just around the corner. My daughters are picking out their ghoulish costumes … one a princess 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.

In the following article, I’m going to talk a bit about how to deal with those Team Vampires and stop their negative bite.

If you are like me you probably remember as a kid playing pickup games like street hockey or basketball. All the kids would line up along the street or court and two “captains” would pick teams. All the rest of the kids in our ragged GWG jeans with velcro laced Sparx shoes would stand in a line and pray that we wouldn’t be last. But no matter how you picked the teams there was always someone left to last. The last one was that kid you didn’t want on your team because they didn’t have the skills, they were too rough, they were a winer, or any other of a host of other reasons.

Teams in the corporate and association world can be very similar to “pickin’ teams,” and those are the good days – usually we inherit people into a team. So given that here are the two scenarios:

Choose

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 won’t be able to give your project full attention. You often choose the ones you like best or that you know you can work well with. There is always someone who wants to work on this project that doesn’t get chosen and tension is created in the workplace because there are a the lucky ones. If you are really lucky you get to hire someone new with skills you need into the team, but have to make sure they fit within the salary budget. And believe it or not this is the best case scenario.

Inherit

Your manager provides you a list of people who are on your team. You enter onto 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. As well, I hear of team leads who inherit a team because someone retired, quit, or were reorganized. So often they are glad to be rid of the “pain’s” of the team. They will have a meeting with you and tell you who to watch out for and why this team is such a problem.

Then of course in both cases there can be great teams that are a pleasure to work with all the time… right?

No matter how you get your team either through inheritance or choice getting and or keeping people engaged is vital. And when people feel compromised either 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. So let’s look straight away at ways to get them on task and engaged in the efforts of the team.


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No matter which way you cut it this is a really tough time for teams. All teams go through it, 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 then can you get back to work.

Teams are picked different ways. Sometimes its about making due with what you have. But that being said, 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.

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