Want to build a successful team, fire the team players!

Kingman Brewster, Jr quotes, “Incomprehensible jargons are the hallmark of a profession.” Let us go through one such jargon which is supposedly comprehensible but detrimental to any organisation.

Team player is a very common term used by Management Gurus and Human Resource personnel. Being a team player is a prerequisite to join any organisation. According to them team players are an absolute must for the growth of the organisation. Is that so? 

Let us delve a little deeper and explore the functionality of this term team player and figure out the contribution of a team player in any organisation.

What would one say if asked in a job interview, “What have you done as a team player in your previous job?” 

The positive responses could be-
 – A salesperson: “I brought in double the business and thus, helped achieve the team target for the month”. 
– An Accountant:  “I put in extra hours to complete the project on time”. 
 – A copywriter: “I did additional research and came up with the best copy, which won us the contract”. 

Wait a minute, was not the question about being a team player? We cannot see any action that they have done to support their team members. We can only see things that they have done for themselves. In other words, one thing that is common is that they all put in more effort which resulted in the success of their team.  

Now let us rephrase the earlier question asked at the interview to “What have you done for your team members and not for yourselves as a team player?” 

The responses could be- 
 – A Salesperson: “I helped a colleague to close a sale”. 
– An Accountant: “I supported my team members to close a balance sheet”. 
– A copywriter: “I guided my team to come up with a great copy”. 

Again, in the above scenarios they have only done their best and it has moved them closer to their personal growth.  

To quote Jordan Peterson, in a game of hockey, “Each team member is trying to be the best player. Try not passing the ball to your colleagues and see what happens. Even if you are really good, you are just a diva, no one is going to be happy with you. They will put horrible things in your beer.” 

We have to agree with Jordan Peterson. That is precisely what we can see from the above responses. Everyone from a Salesperson to a Copywriter has been playing to the best of their ability to be a team player.    

So let me again rephrase the earlier question “As a team player what have you done for your team members, where you didn’t stand to gain anything?”  

The responses could be- 
A Salesperson: “I covered up for my colleague who had been missing from work for about 30 minutes, by saying he had just left”.
An Accountant: “My colleague was wasting his time over WhatsApp, I did not expose it to the management”. 
A Copywriter: “My colleague used to spend a lot of time on YouTube in the name of research, I gave it a blind eye”.

A corporate scenario is a game of hockey with no spectators. The defence lets the goalie take a 30 minutes break while the game is on or the forward checks his WhatsApp in the middle of the game. To be a team player nobody reports on anybody. Do we get the picture?

So, the only thing they have done for their team members is support or cover up for their mistakes. In other words, to be a ‘team player’ all their actions were detrimental to the success of their team and growth of the company. Imagine the debacle. 

To conclude, for the success of the team, the only thing anyone can do is to work/ play to the best of their ability. To reiterate, there are no ‘team players’ who can contribute to the success of the team. Anytime you have a ‘team player’ on board it results in the loss of man hours and business, which impedes the success of any organisation.

It is high time we remove the term ‘team player’ from our job descriptions, HR manuals or any other literature in an organisation. Unless and until it states “team players not welcome”.

Could you spot the team players in your team whom you would want to fire? Please leave your comment below. Love to hear from you. 

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