The 5 Types of People Who Hold Their Teams Back at Work

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Irritated coworkers

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Candace Alnaji
Candace Alnaji118
The Mom at Law
Working collaboratively in the workplace can be a challenge. We all come with our own professional baggage, experiences, and opinions, and it can sometimes be difficult to accept that another colleague’s approach could be as effective or even better than our own.
Whether we are leaders of an organization, a department, or a project, or fall somewhere else in the mix, we all have a role to play and a job to do. The best of us can put ego aside at work for the good of the team. Others — not so much. We all know what it’s like to work with someone who just doesn’t quite grasp the concept of teamwork.
Here are five of the worst offenders.

1. The Do-It-Yourselfer (DIYer)

No, I don’t mean the person who’s great at turning an old pillow case into a prom dress. I’m talking about the one in the office who insists on doing everything him or herself.
Whether in general office matters or on a project, this person will hijack anything they can get their hands on and run with it. They have no trust or faith in the competency of their peers or direct-reports, so they do everything on their own. Because of this, the DIYer can never effectually lead or work collaboratively with others. This type of behavior is toxic for teams because it never allows anyone else’s thoughts or contributions to shine.

2. The Ghost

Have you ever seen this person? No one has — at least, not when you need them.
The Ghost will float in and out of meetings and conversations without you even knowing they were there. When you need them to take the lead on a task, they’re nowhere to be found. They have an e-mail account and a phone number, so you’re pretty sure they exist, but it’s impossible to be certain. The Ghost is bad for the team because their lack of effort means everyone else must work twice as hard.

3. The Expert

You may recognize this person from the way they preface every sentence with the word “actually.”
This person knows everything and believes their way of doing things is always best. The Expert may sound a bit like the DIYer, but actually, they’re different because they have little interest in monopolizing the workload—they just want you to know the “right” way things should be done. Who gets the job done is of no concern to them. This person holds their team back because they never cede to another’s point of view, and they rarely have anything collaborative to contribute.

4. The Debbie Downer

Did your team just knock a project out of the park three weeks early? That’s incredible—unless you’re Debbie Downer. She (or he) can’t get excited about anything.
When things go well, she will find something to complain about. And when things go wrong? Well, Debbie Downer’s not surprised. She knew all along that this bad thing would happen. Debbie Downers are bad for teams because they bring the whole mood of the group down. They’re self-limiting, and when they work with others, they limit everyone.

5. The Kudos Thief

I’m sorry, was this a group effort? You wouldn’t know it from talking to the Kudos Thief.
If the Kudos Thief were a supervillain, they’d get their powers from stealing the credit due to others. The Kudos Thief is toxic to the rest of the team because they refuse to acknowledge anyone else’s efforts. Worse, they usually know when someone else has done a great job, yet they still refuse to give credit where it's due.
Have you dealt with any of these personalities on your team? How did you manage? I'd love to hear your story in the comments below.
Candace is a practicing attorney, working parents advocate, freelance writer, and proud mom. Her legal practice focuses on workers’ rights. She can be found writing about law, motherhood, and more on her blog as The Mom at Law.