Bad Apple: How to Deal with Negative Agile Team Members
Change and software development go hand in hand. Constantly changing requirements, customer needs, people joining and leaving projects, organisational changes – all this has become the norm nowadays. But no matter how small or large a change is, there are people who disagree and oppose it.
In Agile teams, changes happen regularly and team members discuss them together, and all opinions are heard to reach a compromise. However, there can be people who express negative or resistant behaviours. It may look insignificant at first, but the recent study shows that even a single, toxic team member can lead to team’s dysfunction and breakdown.
The key to a successful change is to figure out why these negative or resistant behaviours occur and negotiate a collaborative response.
Does your team have a bad apple?
We all have worked with “difficult” people who suck out a lot of the team’s time and energy. Conversations with them are “heavy”, they often complain about tasks and doubt the team’s ability to succeed.
Most teams just put up with “difficult” people and sometimes can force them to change their behaviours. But if often happens that the “difficult” person has a significant impact on the group and other team members start to take on “difficult” characteristics – they also become negative and resistant to change.
Teams with the so-called “bad apple” perform up to 40% worse and their ability to share work and collaborate dropped significantly.
How can you deal with negative Agile team members?
1. Understand their position
Try to understand whether there is a valid reason to resist a change or they simply resist for the sake of resisting.
2. Make sure they are not going through a person or professional crisis
People are often resistant to change when they are overloaded with work and see the change only as more work. Discuss this together and find out how the change can help reduce work overload.
3. Determine if this behaviour is a repetitive pattern
If this behaviour is unusual for a person, then there must be something else that influences this person’s mood and ability to adapt. But if negative behaviours occur again and again, you may want to take a closer look at this person’s true nature – is this person a bully? A procrastinator? A manipulator?
4. Discuss and rebuild your working relationship
Remain calm and don’t challenge the difficult person in public. Meet in private, discuss and determine the reason for their negative behaviour. If necessary, involve the HR department and management.
Try to rebuild your relationships in a positive manner. However, sometimes parting ways can be the best solution for the individual and for the company.