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With every team or organization I have led there have been people who get frustrated with someone else on the team. In full disclosure, sometimes others have been frustrated with me.

Frustration is common among relationships. It happens within the healthiest of families – and the healthiest of teams. We certainly shouldn’t strive to frustrate others, but we shouldn’t be surprised when we do.

I have learned there are some actions, which can frustrate people faster than others. This might be a good time to do some self-reflection. As you read these, don’t be quick to think of others – although certainly there will be some of this too – but consider your own actions when you (or I) may frustrate people on your team.

Here are 7 ways we frustrate other team members:

Promising to do something and not following through.

One of the quickest ways to frustrate people is to make a commitment and then not do what was promised. People are depending on each other on a team. When one person “drops the ball” – especially consistently – it impacts everyone. The Scripture says it something like this: “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” It’s better to commit to less and complete them than to take on assignments and never see them to the end.

Saying one thing to one person and something different to another.

Healthy teams are built on trust. Trust is developed with time and consistency. No one likes a people-pleaser. This person is often popular for a time, but they lose favor as soon as they’re found out to be two-sided in their opinions.

Never being serious.

This is the person who embarrasses you by making awkward comments and includes you in them like you are part of it. Teams should be fun, but this person makes everything a joke – and other people are often the brunt of them. They delay meetings with their constant antics. It can be funny for a while, but it wears thin quickly, as it begins to delay progress towards a goal.

Having an excuse for everything.

This is the person who can’t complete the task, but doesn’t want to admit fault, so they blame it on something else – or someone else. They refuse to ever admit fault. There is always a reason. They actually may become frustrated with you if you dare challenge one of their excuses. They expect you to just keep believing them.

Always having a trump story.

You know the type. You went on an exciting adventure – it was a great vacation – and the person who, often before you finish, has to share with you their vacation which was far better than yours. Or, what they accomplished at work is always far superior to what you accomplished. They can’t let anyone receive recognition grander than they receive.

Complaining consistently.

You may be just as frustrated with things at work as everyone else, but the one person who always complains sucks even the slightest joy from the room. They sew negativity into the team and try to bring everyone down to the pit of despair with them. They don’t like the vision, the plan of action, or those charged with leading them. They are naysayers. They overreact to everything and blow it out of proportion. These people weigh heavily on the morale of the team.

Only looking out for themselves.

This person really isn’t on the team, because the very definition of team involves shared progress towards a goal. They may be on the team by position, but in actions they are very much independent of others. They look out for themselves first. If they can take advantage of an opportunity – they will – even to the detriment of others.

Let’s build better teams!

Those are just some of the more frequent ones I’ve observed. Have you ever been frustrated by anyone on your team with one of these? Have you been the cause of any of these frustrations?

What are other frustrations you’ve seen people bring to a team?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Mark Triplett says:

    As a preacher friend of mine says, “If you can’t say “amen”, say “ouch!” In my earlier years I was guilty of a few of these as well. Thanks Ron for the insight.

  • One travels long distances not solely for large gatherings, but for something more intangible. I have always gone out on a limb for love. A dangerous, romantic, disappointing way to live.

  • Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends.
    You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things: air, sleep, dreams, sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.

  • jimpemberton says:

    I have see plenty of each of these. I have a couple to add that may overlap with one or more or may make for a good subset of one:

    Throwing other team members under the bus – Framing issues in such a way as to put the onus of the solution (or the root of the problem) onto someone else.

    Setting other team members up by backing out of a difficult situation – The kinds of behaviors represented in this list always seem to be present in teams in one way or another. If not, then there are always some other kinds of challenges to the team that are difficult and must be handled. But there is occasionally that one person who enlists the help of another team member to handle a difficult situation and then backs out after the committing action is made by the other person leaving them to handle the situation alone.

    The good thing is that there are appropriate ways to deal with these kinds of team members. As a team member, the answer to any of these is to own the situation and deal with it like a boss. You can often turn being placed into a difficult situation into an opportunity to show your value. Cowardly team members will usually eventually be found out and culled from the team. When I lead a team, I watch out for team members who don't own the goals of the team (especially in their areas of responsibility) and try to hide it. Sometimes you turn frustrating team members around. Other times, you have to replace them. Occasionally, you can use their poor habits for the benefit of the team. For example, There's one fellow I know who tends to be negative. His team members use his negativity in negotiating with other departments in his company to give their department head positive leverage. It's kind of a good-cop / bad-cop scenario. So you can get creative with solutions.