Sounds like a kindergarten encounter, or maybe an encounter at work! I arrived at the pool for my early morning swim yesterday to find all the lanes occupied. Just after Labor Day and everyone was back in the groove, or trying to be. I immediately sought out a lifeguard to help me ask one of the groups of swimmers to begin to circle swim to enable more people to fit into a lane area; that is the established protocol where I work out.

I Don’t Want It but You Can’t Have It

Someone who had been waiting before me jumped up and told me that we couldn’t circle swim because one person in that area was too slow. And the one slow swimmer would mess things up. He said, “Circle swimming isn’t possible with these slow guys. No one can circle swim here!” I patiently explained that I’d be glad to circle swim with the slow swimmer and that many of us had done this before. He stormed back to his waiting area, body language expressing disgust…

Obstacle to Change but Change Happens

Life guard arrives and begins to organize the circle swim: Seeing that circle swim was about to take place, the person who had just accosted me stormed up to me again and said he’d been waiting longer than me, and if anyone was going to circle swim he’d do it. I politely said, “That’s great, after all it is your turn.” He then jumped in the pool – not happy, but wet. Or maybe he was happy; happy to be a spoiler, or so he thought. I simply went to the next lane area, organized another circle swim and guess what? I ended up in the area with all the friendly and faster swimmers…hmm…a little karma at work there.

The Anti-Team Builder

Too often, we see this attitude in our work environments. A team member may be entrenched and unwilling to provide positive contribution. Additionally, that person is unwilling to see others succeed when they provide positive contribution. When this happens you’ve got a team spoiler.

  • Do you have a spoiler on your team? How do you deal with that person?
  • If you’re a leadership coach, HR consultant, change manager or team building facilitator how do you advise your clients to deal with a spoiler?
  • Please share your wisdom below so we can all learn how to navigate through our daily swim.

Do you have a team spoiler on your team?

About Billy Kirsch

Billy is a Grammy & Emmy nominated, CMA & ACM award winning songwriter with numerous Top 10 hits to his credit. His team building programs and keynote speaking presentations help people tap into their creative abilities to become more innovative and engaged in their work. Clients include Fortune 100 companies and organizations throughout the world.