5 Ways Uncooperative Team Members Thwart Your Project (And How to Save It)

You never know when you’ll be working with an uncooperative team member. You can’t beat them, and you can’t afford to join them. You need your marketing project to flow smoothly, and allowing an uncooperative team member to take a toll on the project will ultimately become an astounding waste of time and money. When you’ve found yourself in the clutches of someone who seems to be working against you, you need to make sure you’re a few steps ahead of the game.

Here are 5 ways uncooperative team members thwart your project and how you can save it:

1. Messing Things Up on Purpose

At first, it seems absurd to entertain the notion that someone is messing things up on purpose. If you’re generally good natured, you may feel compelled to give this person the benefit of the doubt even after they continually make mistakes. You shouldn’t. Messing things up on purpose is a tactic often used by passive aggressive people when they don’t want to work on a specific part of the project. Rather than opting out, they’ll intentionally sabotage whatever they were assigned (for example, creating the template for your marketing emails) in hopes that they won’t be tasked to do it again.

How to Save It:

Ask this person what they actually want to do. Be direct about it. If they’re constantly messing up the marketing emails, ask them if they would do better handling the social media front. If you can switch things around and assign this person a task they can excel at, it’s worth investigating that option. If you can’t, sit down with this person and walk them through exactly what you expect of them. They won’t have an excuse next time.

2. Pushing Their Own Agenda

This is usually the person who wants to be the leader of the group but wasn’t chosen for the role. They might have a marketing tool they prefer to use, or a strategy of their own. They’ll constantly try to get everyone else to change course, and the time and energy they’re spending to push their own agenda will take away from the productivity of the group. Time is money in marketing, and when you have important deadlines to meet, you can’t have people arguing over a leadership role that isn’t actually up for grabs.

How to Save It:

First, investigate whether or not the idea this person has is actually better. If it is, you’d be a fool not to use it. This person may be vocal for a good reason, and it’s best to either accept their suggestions or outright refuse them based on the research you’ve done. Come to a clear decision about what to do. If you’ve looked into it and the idea isn’t feasible for the project, tell this person in clear terms why their idea can’t be used. If it proves to be helpful, attempt to incorporate it.

3. Being Passionate Naysayers

People who don’t like your strategy but don’t have any innovations or alternatives to offer are little more than naysayers. They’re arguing or objecting to things while making no real effort to improve a situation. Maybe they don’t actually understand what you’re doing or the best way to achieve the results you need for a successful completion of a marketing campaign. Whatever the case may be, it’s hard to get things done when a member of your team seems to be doing little more than complaining.

How to Save It:

Move these people to a completely different aspect of the project. He or she might do better in branding than marketing. This person wouldn’t be complaining so much if they were actually enjoying the work that they’re doing. They could be feeling burned out, or perhaps they’re under-qualified for the work they’ve been given.

4. Needing an Excessive Amount of Assistance

Everyone needs help from time to time, but the people who constantly need help are more than likely in over their heads. It could be that they don’t understand the task they’ve been assigned to, or that they require too much oversight to get the job done. While it’s good practice to have every part of your marketing strategy approved before you proceed, these people may hold you back by seeking an excessive amount of approval.

How to Save It:

Empower this team member, especially if they have a reputable track record for obtaining satisfactory results. Let them know when they do and don’t need to check in. Give them the green light to go ahead with what they feel is best from time to time. If the person is still struggling, provide them with the resources they need to learn more about specific marketing strategies.

5. Being Perpetually Late with Everything

Late people often feel like a burden to the rest of the team. Whether they show up late or they finish their work late, they may not be doing so out of a blatant disregard for everyone else. They could be feeling overwhelmed by the amount of workplace stress they’re feeling, and a complicated campaign may be taking a big toll on them.

How to Save It:

Encourage this team member to take a few days off or work remotely. Burnout is a huge productivity killer, and everyone is susceptible to feeling burned out at one time or another. This team member can’t honestly work through it – he or she may need to take some time to step back and take a few deep breaths.

When the stakes are high, it may be hard to be compassionate or have patience with people who seem to be outrageously uncooperative, but you can’t afford to lose your cool. Before you approach any uncooperative team member about resolving an issue, make sure your head is clear and you’re calm enough to have a productive conversation.

Simone Cormack is an experienced content creator working at Zintel, where she constantly supports marketing teams with her ideas and suggestions.