When a team member gives you the hooby doobies..

Ahhh teams. They are a both a source of immense enjoyment and extreme frustration. One of the more common questions I am asked is what to do when a team isn’t working. Or when one person on the team gives another (or everyone on the team) the hooby doobies (technical HR term there!)

A dysfunctional team can make everyone’s working life a misery. And it’s easy to blame the person who seems to be causing the dysfunction. Often, clients ask if they can deal with the supposed dysfunction by getting rid of that one person. The sad reality is though, that whilst there is usually some sort of bounce back after the person goes – the dysfunction often comes back in another form.

Team Chemistry

The HBR article below makes some excellent points on frustrations caused by team chemistry. Chemistry is at its most basic, a reaction between two substances. In the context of teams, this reaction can either be something that is complementary or something that is explosive. Understanding the composition and chemistry of your team and why people react the way that they do, is a first great step to understanding team dynamics, and why some people do, in the context of a specific team, give their fellow team member(s) the hooby doobies.

Is is just the one bad apple?

Some things to ponder before you start getting rid of people:

  • Is there clarity? On the purpose of the team and on the individual roles and responsibilities within the team?
  • Are the right people in the right jobs with the right skills?
  • Do the systems and broader organisational structures work to support and enable the team to do their work?
  • Is there clear leadership of the team?
  • Do team members trust each other? Are they able to manage conflict effectively? Do they hold each other to account? Are they results driven? Is there commitment?
  • Finally, is there an acknowledgement of the makeup of the team? What sort of diversity is there? Cognitively, style wise and person wise?


Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Sometimes the presenting issue is not the actual issue. It’s always a good idea to look more systematically at what’s causing the angst.



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