Bad Penny or Wrong Pocket
It is always difficult when someone in the team just doesn’t fit. The challenge is what to do about this. Are they a “Bad Penny”? Someone who is mis-shapen and worthless? Our experience at Hunter Moore is that there are remarkably few of these. Yes there are those who have been mangled by the slot machine of life and are not pristine but there are very few who are deliberately difficult and challenging when given the correct opportunity and encouragement.
“Bad Pennies” are often pennies that happen to be in the wrong pocket. Some years ago we did some work with a charity. They had a team member who just didn’t pull their weight, was disruptive in meetings and challenged authority. When we worked with the team over a period of time it became clear that this person was not a “Bad Penny” but really was in the wrong pocket. We worked with the individual, the team leader and the rest of the team and found a route to the right pocket for him. Once in the right place (as it happened another job elsewhere in the organisation using his real talents) he thrived and changed out of almost all recognition.
If your “Bad Penny” is in the right pocket but is still a bit battered and bruised it might be that the team need to rally round to provide and place of safety and refuge. Trust can only grow within a team if some members initially show vulnerability. This is unlikely to be your “Bad Penny” so don’t expect that – vulnerability needs to come from the leadership of the team and the apparently strong. When others observe the safe environment where this vulnerability is displayed then, over time they will start to be open and trusting as well and the damaged edges can be healed.
This is not a 5 minute fix or a one time solution. Teams are full of people who get knocked about by life all the time. The people feeling like or behaving like a “Bad Penny” at different times will vary. This significantly impacts the landscape of the space between team members unless the leaders are constantly aware, constantly adjusting and constantly ensuring that the environment of trust stays strong.
So, do what you can with “Bad Pennies” to repair them and make sure they are in a pocket where they are valued.