Business, like life, is built on relationships and putting the right people together to achieve the end goal. This ‘putting together’ is normally left to the leader of a team to use their insight and experience to put the people with the best personalities, experience and skillset for the matter at hand. However, like we all know, it doesn’t always work like that. The phrase “square peg, round hole” comes to mind as leaders can fill positions without really finding the best person for them. This can be for many reasons: pressure to fill said position, failure to do their due diligence and really find out if this person is the right fit. There’s also a chance that the candidate just performed really well at interview. So is it possible to change behaviours in teams? And is this even the right thing to do?

When someone isn’t quite what you were expecting

There can be a huge disparity between an interview and reality, so having a probation period is a good idea. But there are a lot of fine lines here. What if the person can do the job, but their personality isn’t compatible with the team? Or it could be the other way around – they are a perfect team fit but their skills are lacking. What, as a leader, can you do? If in doubt, always talk it through with your HR advisor for up-to-date employment law and probation boundaries.

It’s hard to change someone’s personality – but should you?

This is a tricky one as people are how they are, and you are treading on dangerous territory here. You really can’t criticise someone’s personality but they do need to fit in with your culture. A good way to approach this is look at exactly where the roadblocks are, or why the friction exists. Is this person rubbing other team members up the wrong way or have they retreated and aren’t getting involved? Are they not being seen to make an effort or are they dominant and overbearing? There can be reasons for both and you should be clear on whether it’s task-related in their role or whether it’s about personality.

Space for the introverted and extroverted

As I spoke about in my previous article, there are extroverts and introverts in this world and there is space for both. Perhaps the person that doesn’t look like they are getting involved is shy and speaking up terrifies them. A solution here could be to ask a fellow team member to take them under their wing slightly and get to know them on a one-on-one basis. This builds trust and collaboration better than being faced with a big group and eases the relationships in.

If someone is loud and dominant, try and take the time to understand why this is – it could be nerves, insecurities or the fact that they don’t feel listened to. Try and include them, value what they say and set boundaries about when to speak up. Feeling included, valued and listened to is hugely powerful stuff.

Skills gaps

You may have team members who have fitted in nicely, but their skills are not where they need to be. Good leaders work on this help them to upskill. This could be extra training, extra time with mentor or good leader, or a programme of growth that they both commit to. It’s certainly better to support and upskill your existing employees who are great assets than trying to change behaviours in teams.

Life happens to everyone

Most people have other things happening in their private lives and it is always worth attributing this possibility to their moods and actions. It’s rare that someone is an out-and-out wally for no reason. There is often a logic for their behaviour that commonly is cited in fear, insecurity and worry. And with the year we have just had, many are carrying extra burdens that may be impacting and triggering their behaviour.

Impacting a team

A good leader understands there are many factors affecting behaviour and gets to the bottom of this across their team. Is it possible to change behaviours in teams? If there is a real disconnect within the team, it is always worth digging a little deeper. You should be able to understand why this is through observing, discussion and coaching.

Well not everyone can get on with everyone and that is human nature. There may be just a good old fashioned personality clash going on. As a leader, it’s your job to look after those of your team involved and manage each personality, the impact they have on others and, importantly, themselves.

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