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Dealing with Difficult Personalities on Virtual, Remote, Hybrid or Flexible Teams

Updated: Oct 24, 2022

Leading a dynamic team of individuals takes patience and a keen sense of emotional intelligence. When your interactions with your team members are virtual, remote, hybrid or flexible in nature, the issues you encounter will be amplified and the time spent with your team members will be shorter and likely from behind a screen. You may also notice that the behaviours that once were a problem in the office are showing themselves very differently from a distance.

Here are a series of typical behaviours you’ll likely see on a diverse team, and how they may appear differently in the virtual space. Think about the folks on your team and see who may fall under these categories:

1. Anti-Team Member – This is clearly the person who is Quiet Quitting; doing the bare minimum and not showing the love for their work the way they used to. They may appear fearless or like a lone wolf, but they clearly don’t want to be part of the team.

2. Passive-Aggressive Behaviour – This person is likely brushing conflict under the rug. They may also be double booking meetings and not showing up to scheduled meetings. These are folks that likely need to be heard and need some facilitation around conflict.

3. Pessimist – This person is not shy to voice their pessimism across virtual platforms. They want someone to listen to their opinions and will find a way to make it happen, via DMs, on Zoom meetings, or in an email.

4. Always Late – This person struggles with the demands of time management, especially from a distance. They’re always late for meetings, are never prepared and may need some strategies.

5. Super-Performer – This is likely the person that is not on your radar; they are perfectionists and get work done quickly. They do need recognition and to be able to work at a quick pace. They may also bore easily.

6. Does not show up – This person is literally a ghost, or perhaps the consummate introvert. They rarely show up, team members don’t know them well and they are a bit of a mystery. As the leader, you’ll likely need to hold them to account to make a minimum presence and set virtual behaviour expectations.

7. Does not share information – This person typically does their own thing. They either withhold information altogether or they do not collaborate with others. They likely need more knowledge and power.

8. Not Confident – You may be receiving a lot of DMs, phone calls, text messages and emails from this team member around what to do almost daily. How much support is reasonable before it becomes enablement?

9. Does not keep you updated – This person may not often be doing their own thing, and may be working on a different tangent than other team members. What they want is to be completely autonomous. How do you find the balance to ensure there is a reasonable amount of feedback being communicated upwardly?

10. Self-Promotion -This is the person who is constantly pointing out their contributions to the team. They want to get ahead. They want to be seen and they need validation.

11. The saboteur – This person does not have anyone’s back but their own. They will happily gossip and badmouth others behind their backs. There is a lack of trust, respect and understanding of one another.

12. Wastes Time/Slacks off – This person may be found using social media and web surfing on work time. They may also lack follow-through. They may lack focus, motivation or require a high level of structure that is not being provided.

13. Does not follow through - This team member may show a lack of results or perhaps goals attained are fewer than expected. They may also blame others for their misgivings. They may not understand the big picture and how their role fits into the puzzle.

14. Inappropriate Cross-culturally – This person may make verbal or written comments which may carry assumptions. They may be bad mouthing others, using an inappropriate cultural word or may lack sensitivity. If this is the case, your HR team may need to get involved to provide adequate cross-cultural training or discipline.

(Source: Reconnecting Workspaces, Pages 75-76)

It is worthy to note that this list is meant to describe typical behaviours on a team and how they show themselves differently when there is reduced or no face-to-face time. If there has been a notable change in a team member’s behaviour, you may need to do a quick a wellness check and see if there are any new external factors influencing their behaviour. You may also need to take into account any generational differences that exist on your team and consider how best to eliminate inter-generational barriers.

Now that you have a general idea of which of your team members fit into these categories, how do you best support them? Visit the source link above to find some quick support tips on the cited pages. If you are finding that your Leadership Team is struggling to effectively lead their virtual, remote, hybrid or flexible team, feel free to book a free 15-minute consultation and we would be happy to discuss your situation.


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