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are you a team player


There are four types of team player:





Contributors make up the core of most teams.  They are people who get a lot done.  They not only pull their weight but their work makes a positive contribution to the team’s goals.  In the ideal scenario, full-time team members will all be contributors.

Catalysts are usually people outside the team but associated with it.  They don’t necessarily do a lot of work for the team.  But when they intervene, what they do is helpful to the team.  Examples of catalysts can include team coaches, consultants or senior managers.

Spoilers can often be found inside the team, though not always.  They are people who do a lot of work, but that work doesn’t actually help the team.  The team may have to spend fruitless time undoing the work of Spoilers or dealing with unwanted consequences.

Blockers are usually people outside the team.  They don’t have much involvement in the team, but what they do stops the team from progressing.  A simple example might be that of a budget-holder refusing to release funds that are essential to the team’s work.

Which type are you?

To work out which type of contribution you make to the team is simple; you can ask these two questions:

Do I spend a lot of time working for the team?

Do I have a positive or negative impact on team performance?

Then lookup the answers in this table:

Little timeLots of time

However, it may not be that simple.  Although you can easily assess how much time you spend working for the team, most people think they are catalysts or contributors.  Spoilers and blockers don’t regard their actions as negative; they usually believe they are making a positive contribution.

Whether a contribution is positive or negative is a subjective judgement.  Having a heated argument might be seen by one team member as disruptive, but by another as clearing the air and resolving an issue that would otherwise have festered.

The benefit of the above model is not to categorise team members and label them as spoilers or contributors.  Rather, it is to raise awareness and facilitate discussion about what types of behaviour make a positive contribution to team performance.

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