Make Positive Outcomes Out of Problem Behaviors

Why are some team members disruptive? As a leader, it’s important to get to the “why” behind a disruptive team members actions to gain a better understanding of their perspective: do they not feel heard? Do they have a concern that nobody has brought up? You chose this person to join your team for a reason, so there could be a valuable contribution or concern behind the disruption.


Recognizing Problem Behaviors

When forming a group or task force, most leaders don’t prepare for how they’ll respond to disruptive team members. Unless the behavior is appropriately addressed, these team members can potentially derail a meeting and upset other team members.

Leaders can reference the list below from our latest online course, Managing Task Forces, Committees, and Work Groups, that identifies the most common types of disruptive team members. This way, leaders can prepare solutions and ways to address these behaviors before they arise.

The Unprepared Member Icon

1. The Unprepared Member

This person comes to every meeting, but they do not complete necessary tasks.

Talking before Listening Icon

2. The Talker

This member is very eager to speak up, but they often do not pay close attention to what is being spoken about and their points are not relevant.

The Queue Jumper Icon

3. The Queue Jumper

This person becomes visibly impatient when waiting to speak and tends to speak out of turn.

The Interrupter

4. The Interrupter

He or she doesn’t allow other members to finish their thought before jumping in with their own point.

The One Making it Personal

5. The One Making it Personal

This type personalizes debates and may say something negative about the group member who spoke as a rebuttal.

Secret Keeper Icon

6. Secret Keeper

This group member hides relationships, whether personal or professional, that could be potential conflicts of interest.

The One Who Breaches Confidentiality Icon

7. The One Who Breaches Confidentiality

This person shares information outside of the group without approval.

How to Change Your Perspective on Disruptive Team Members

Leaders should become familiar with these types of disruptive behavior and think of potential solutions before they arise. However, as long as behavior does not become inappropriate or abusive, there are hidden benefits to having a disruptive group member on your team.

Part of making the best of problematic behavior is understanding why these behaviors may be happening or how they may benefit the group. Leaders who get to the “why” behind the disruption can better appreciate their perspective and contributions. Consider the following benefits that disruptive group members can provide:

Different Point of View Icon

1. Different Point of View

While consensus among a group is desirable, a group member who speaks up with a different point of view can open up a team to consider other options that they hadn’t  thought about previously.

Pointing Out Challenges Icon

2. Pointing Out Challenges

A team member who starts a conversation about potential risks and problems could prompt a team to come up with possible solutions that could save time and trouble later.

Stirring the Pot Icon

3. Stirring the Pot

Complacency can be the slow death of a team, so someone who stirs the pot can spark conversation and help get everyone engaged in what is happening.

Quality Standards Icon

4. Quality Standards

A team member who is demanding could potentially bring forth a high standard of quality and, thus, a better end result as a team.


Excerpts from our self-study online course Managing Task Forces, Committees & Work Groups: How to Get a Reputation as a Good Leader

Like what you see? Learn more actionable insights by registering for this course now!