So, you’re trying to do some team building exercises to improve employee morale. You’ve said “Okay, everyone, put down your phones, get out of your email, leave your cubicles and come over here; we’re going to play some games!
Most of your people are going to be absolutely delighted that they get a bit of time away from the daily grind. But then there’s Bob. Bob does not want to do this, and he is going to resist it every step of the way.
Every workplace has a Bob. He’s the guy who grumbles and says “I’m busy, I’m on a deadline, and can’t you just leave me alone? Oh, and besides, I don’t want to play your stupid games!”
Chances are that Bob is the guy who’s dragging down the rest of the team, so you really want to bring him in on this. What do you do, though, with someone who simply refuses to be a team player? Who tells you, “If I wanted to be on a goddamn team I’d go out for softball, so leave me the frig alone”?
You could, of course, force Bob to participate. You could tell him that participation is a condition of keeping his job, and then you can watch his ass going out the door as he quits. But is that really going to do any good? Look, Bob just doesn’t want to play. So, you can do your team building exercises without Bob, or try to bring him onside. Or you could fire him. But if you do that, chances are that Bob is going to come back on you, all lawyered up, and saying “They forced me to play childish games that had nothing to do with my work.” We’re thinking you don’t want that to happen.
Gotta Deal With Them
Look, realistically, guys like Bob can be toxic when it comes to your business. They might not be doing a single thing to help you grow, and they’re dragging down everyone else who might actually benefit from team building exercises. So, what are you going to do, short of giving Bob the boot?
You can try bringing him onside. Bob is probably very full of himself, but if you tell him, “Look, Bob, I have a problem here, and I’d really appreciate it if you’d help me out,” Bob’s ego is likely to kick in and he might actually become your new best friend, bringing other people onside with the team building exercises.
If you’re going to do that, though, be honest with Bob. He’s going to know if you’re trying to sucker him. Offer him materials that he can read that will help him to help you – bring him onside. Tell him that you’re trying to effect a certain type of change, and you would appreciate his help. Don’t lie to him or condescend to him, because he’s going to pick it up in a heartbeat.
Option Number 2
So, that’s option number one – get Bob on your side. If you can’t do that, then hard as it might sound, you have to go to Plan B, which is going to be to kick Bob to the curb. You’ve made an effort, you’ve done your best, and if Bob is still recalcitrant, then there is simply no point in trying to push it any further. You have expended a great deal of time and effort, and Bob isn’t cooperating. Give it up.
Sometimes for the sake of employee satisfaction when it comes to the rest of your team, it has to be done. In the final analysis, though, it’s up to you – so how valuable is Bob? What will you lose if you cut him loose? Will employee satisfaction suffer overall if you let him go? How much do your other employees like Bob? Will they revolt if you fire him, or will they just move on?
The other thing you can do is move Bob into a position where he doesn’t have to work as part of a team. Most businesses have positions in data entry, stockrooms and other areas in which social skills really don’t matter all that much. Would Bob be better suited to one of these positions?
You Can’t Motivate Everyone to Work With a Team
Some people are simply never going to be able to work in a team construct. When that happens, you have to ask yourself if the employee has value in other ways. If he or she just doesn’t fit with a team, your best course of action might be to accept that and find a place for them in your organization where they don’t have to be sociable or compatible with other people. It doesn’t mean that they’re not valuable to your organization; it just means that they need to be in a position where social skills and teamwork don’t matter. So before you force Bob into team building exercises, consider finding another place for him. He can still be of value to your company without having to participate in teamwork that simply doesn’t suit him.