Seven Negative Roles and Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

Seven Negative Roles and Behaviors Which Undermine Team Performance

Positive and constructive team roles are important, but it is possible for negative or destructive agendas to emerge that can affect the ability of individual groups to function effectively.

There are many reasons that negative and destructive roles can arise, such as personal agendas, resistance, immaturity and a lack of motivation, team leadership, management, and leadership.

A leader’s main role is to watch and identify negative and destructive behaviors in their team. Leaders must encourage their team to recognize and solve problems within the group. Leaders can take direct action if this fails.

These are the behaviors and roles leaders need to watch out for in their teams.


The aggressor criticizes everyone in the team and is in essence a naysayer. The aggressor can block new ideas and concepts from being introduced by deflating and minimizing the status of others in the team and creating an atmosphere of intimidation. This behavior and role can lead to decreased motivation in the team and consequent member involvement.


A blocker is someone who has a strong personality and rejects other perspectives. The blocker is a dominant personality who blocks the team from brainstorming and discussing the merits of any new ideas or concepts. This individual, like the aggressor can be very detrimental to the team’s efforts as he/she intimidates members and limits their participation, which in turn decreases the overall motivation and involvement of the team.


The withdrawer is a person who holds back and refuses to participate in the team environment. This person focuses on the immature behavior of others and attempts to solve the conflicts and unrest that it causes. This hinders the team’s ability and progress on assigned projects and problems.

Recognition Seeker

The recognition seeker is looking for attention, and by constantly asserting his or herself as a leader in the discussion, he or she can be seen seeking personal attention. In addition to trying to get the team to accept his or her ideas, the recognition seeker also wants to win them over. This behavior can lead to a reduction in input from other members of the team, which can negatively impact motivation, participation, and overall team involvement.

Topic Jumper

Topic jumpers are unable to fully explore a topic. A topic jumper is someone who has a short attention span. They interrupt group discussions constantly by trying to change the subject. These interruptions can cause team meetings to drift off-focus, which can lead to lower productivity.


The dominator is known for intimidating and bullying colleagues. In an effort to control the group and take control of all discussions, this individual will use intimidating and minimising behavior. This individual will often “hijack” the group by forcing it to follow his or her agenda.

Devil’s Advocate

Although the devil’s advocate is an important team function in that it allows for different perspectives to be discussed, it can also become a problem if used to hinder team progress or block consensus. The devil’s advocate, in this sense, is simply a naysayer who refuses to let the team move forward.

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