A Journey Through Technology

Week 10: Explain and give examples to argue why the following statement is true or false: “Get the right people on your team, and get the wrong ones off.”

on April 1, 2017

When I first saw the question for this week, my immediate response was: True! Of course you don’t want to have the wrong people on your team. But after doing some research this week and our Twitter session on Tuesday, I am definitely leaning more in the False direction. Who’s to say that the wrong person will always be the wrong person. Maybe they just need a chance to adapt. Maybe they have something to offer that the “right” people don’t.

The chapter for this week focuses on relationships. Fullan starts the chapter by saying that it isn’t just the people that cause an enterprise to be successful, but instead “it is actually the relationships that make the difference.” (Fullan, 2001, p.51) To me this makes a lot of sense. You could have a team of the best and brightest people, but if they don’t have a good working relationship, how far will you actually get? That being said, good working relationships can’t make up for a weak member on the team. Good leadership is key to dealing with a weak team member. Weaknesses can come in many different areas, so it would be hard to look at all possibilities, but as educational leaders, there are ways we can work with our weaker team members to help them fit with our team.

I came across a book this week, How to Help Your School Thrive Without Breaking the Bank, and read through the first chapter, Honing Your Leadership and Growing New Leaders. Part of this chapter discusses what makes a leader effective, and I thought a description of one of the traits, being a nurturer, could help leaders deals with some weak team members. “Effective leaders make sure that no teacher is left behind: they pick up those who have fallen, lend an ear or a shoulder to those who need support, and generally help to recharge staff members and prepare them for another day.” (Gabriel & Farmer, 2009) Sometimes just being available for team members could help them become stronger team members. I know that if I don’t feel like my leader values me, I find it harder to be a team player.

I found another perspective in an article titled “What to do with your problem team member” by Professor Leigh Thompson. Thompson gives four steps to follow if there is a problem-member on your team, or a “delta member”:

  1. Reassess and, if necessary, reassign the roles
  2. If you still have a problem, revise the team process
  3. Give everybody a crash course on how to engage in healthy conflict
  4. As a final resort, invite the team to coach each other (Thompson, n.d.)

While all of these aren’t completely relevant to education, I think these steps could be adapted to work in an education setting. The main thing I take away from this article is that it is worth looking at the whole team when there is an issue with someone on it.

While I have shifted my initial response from this week’s question from True to False, I read another article that had some good points for the True argument. If you are trying to change your organization, “…if you have the wrong people on the bus, nothing else matters. You may be headed in the right direction, but you still won’t achieve greatness. Great vision with mediocre people still produces mediocre results.” (Collins, 2001) The only real issue I have with this statement, is that this assumes that the “wrong people” cannot turn into the “right people”. If not everyone on your team is on-board with the changes, and they are not able to adapt and get on-board, I could see an argument for getting them off your team. But people should be given the chance to adapt before being tossed off of the bus.

References

Collins, J. (2001). Good to Great. jimcollins.com. Retrieved 31 March 2017, from http://www.jimcollins.com/article_topics/articles/good-to-great.html

Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc.,U.S. Retrieved from http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2081/lib/uasoutheast/reader.action?ppg=17&docID=10842273&tm=1444680173430

Gabriel, J., & Farmer, P. (2009). How to help your school thrive without breaking the bank (1st ed., Chapter 1). Alexandria, Va.: ASCD.

Thompson, P. (n.d.). How to handle the problem team member. Kellogg.northwestern.edu. Retrieved 31 March 2017, from http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/news_articles/2014/11072014-bad-team-member.aspx

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4 responses to “Week 10: Explain and give examples to argue why the following statement is true or false: “Get the right people on your team, and get the wrong ones off.”

  1. Tristan Leiter says:

    My perspective changed from true to false after the Twitter session as well. As I read through various articles this week I couldn’t not think about the fact that sometimes the wrong people are the right people because they bring something to the table that we may not like, but that we must consider. If we are always just with people who share the same views as us (which I thought of this week as I thought of the term “right”), are we really going to move from where we are at? I tend to think we would get stuck in a rut, because there is no one there to challenge us. There are a lot of times where I will go into a meeting or have a conversation with someone and they will bring up change and I automatically think, “No, thank you.” As I continue to think about it and see it working in other classrooms though, my view changes and I tend to get on board, there are just some things that I need to see working before I’ll buy into it. So I agree with you when you say that some people just need some time to adapt, because that is true for a lot of times with me. But if they are never going to get on board and help with the situation (whether agreeing or challenging), sure, I’d be all for getting them off my team.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. unicyclepro says:

    One of the most important duties of educational leaders (specifically principals) is to nurture and become a resource person for teachers in the class. This is so different from the past. They were an “evaluator” and one that decides if you belong on the team, or not. I admit that I have my administrative certification, and I see principals in a different light than I used to. And to be honest, I don’t see some of them changing in this way. Maybe I don’t see them interact with other staff in my building, but I know for sure they don’t come into MY class to observe and possibly give assistance. I know they have a full plate, but I do think that nurturing teachers should be at the top of their list. Teachers are the first line of defense, so to speak, that are literally in the front lines daily. They need help when ever possible. It it is sort of unfortunate that there seems to be the same teachers gather around the principal on a daily basis like a “clique”. I shouldn’t say such things, but we are talking about relationships and it shouldn’t matter if you are “wrong” or “right”, everyone has a chance to part of the overall team of educators that have the same goal of educating our diverse student population.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Larissa Sivertsen says:

    Thank you for the information on how to better help “weak” teammates. This is important because there are going to be colleagues that you may consider ineffective or weak, and instead of letting them sink…why not lend them a helping hand to improve the collective? Too often I hear about colleagues complaining about other colleagues and their performance, but they’re never willing to offer a helping hand. Collaboration can really do wonders for teammates and colleagues who need more support.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. jtschewe says:

    Your info on helping other teammates was/is insightful. Larissa makes a good point in her comment about before you go complaining about someone, ask what you’ve done to help them.
    It’s all about relationships.
    I don’t think just because someone has a differing opinion or way of doing something puts them in the “wrong” category. Variety is the “right” person. For me, the “wrong” person is someone whose moral purpose is vastly different than mine. If we’re not working toward the same goal, then they shouldn’t be on the team. It would be like being in a tug-of-war with someone on your team who’s pulling in any direction but the same one as you. Why would you want that person around?

    Liked by 1 person

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