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How To Cope With a Wildcard Teammate

wildcardHave you ever looked out across a busy street and noticed a group of people with one person trailing behind looking incredibly uncomfortable?

That person is usually the wildcard – they’re happy enough when they’re left alone and able to do their own thing, but stick them in a large group and suddenly they don’t how to respond or communicate effectively.

A large portion of people do not know how to cope with individuals of a wildcard disposition and will often avoid them due to the fact that they believe that they are very unpredictable and even a little troublesome. However, what if this wildcard is to become a member of your team?

How can you encourage them to become a part of your team and aid their integration?

Welcome the Wildcard

One of the first things that you should do when including this type of person in your team is to make them feel welcome like you would with any other new member.

Before you introduce them to your team and allow the other members to welcome them, it’s essential that you have a 10 minute meeting with the employee explaining what they should expect whilst working for you and what the job will entail.

Another way in which you can make the teammate feel welcome is to give them a personal tour of their new place of work. Show them the facilities that are available and where your office or area of work will be in case they need to seek you out for guidance or advice – by doing this the employee will know that you are there to support them, should they need you to.

Help to Integrate the Wildcard

As we mentioned previously, the wildcard is the type of individual that does not usually work well as part of a team and would rather do things their way than do things with the team.

It’s important that you discourage this way of thinking very early on without being too harsh or forceful.

One of the best methods that you can use is the same method that we often use with our pets and children. It’s a simple method called classical conditioning; if the employee works with the team to achieve something you should reward or praise them. If the member of your team decides to complete things their way rather than working with their colleagues you must gently discourage this behaviour.

Another way for you to try to encourage the employee to integrate into the team is to speak to the rest of your team separately and explain that the latest member is not confident when it comes to working as part of a team. By explaining the situation you enable your team to compensate for the issue concerning the employee – it also increases the chances of your team making an effort to include the wildcard worker.

You should use this technique as a last resort only as it can backfire and reduce the productivity of the team. Select one of the more cooperative and open minded members of your team and pair them up with the wildcard.

If the employee has a partner that they have to stick with and work with, it can make things much easier for you in the long term.

Once this member of the team has gained the trust of the wildcard they can involve them in group activities. The wildcard should feel more comfortable with this set-up as they have an ally.

Any other methods of integrating the wildcard into your group or your team depends on the individual and the rest of their personality traits; if you’re in doubt as to what you should do next, speak to them and tell them that you feel that they should interact with and work alongside the group more. If you explain the situation clearly they are likely to understand and make an attempt to cooperate with you.


Georgina Stamp works with Marble Hill Partners, a company that specialise in providing professional interim managers. She believes that managing the dynamics of a group is all part of holding a leadership role in a company.

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Georgina Stamp works with Marble Hill Partners, a company that specialise in providing professional interim managers. She believes that managing the dynamics of a group is all part of holding a leadership role in a company.


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