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They say I am not a team worker but I am the only one on the team

Dear Office-Politics,

I work for a Corporation in a department where I am the only unionized worker and the others are all managers. Three Occupational Health Nurses, one Doctor and one Administration Support (who does very little).

I have recently been accused of not being a teamworker. I am the support person in this office. They have always made it clear that they are management team and I am not.

This is OK with me but why go to the second level manager and say I am not a team worker when I am the only one on the team?

In staff meetings they have out and out lied about things that have not been done? I could not believe it.

There is one other who is from another department who has also gone to the 2nd level and said that I don’t know how to do my job. She has no idea of what my job entails. I have said nothing as yet, choosing to wait until I cool off but I really don’t know what to do or how to handle this.

Feeling upset,

Sick of It

dina beach lynch

Dear Sick of It,

It’s clear you’re feeling needled by your colleagues so let’s look at what may have happened and a productive way for you to respond.

Hearing directly or indirectly that others are critiquing your work is hard, I’m sure. We all have feelings that can be easily hurt. In this situation I urge you to step back from your feelings of frustration and anger to consider things from an objective standpoint before acting.

Given what you’ve shared to far, the sounds like a case of mixed messages. You’ve been told you are not part of the team but then accused of not being a team player. The key thing to re-examine is the meaning of team. The meaning of that word and the acceptable behaviors that are based on the thoughts of the others on the team and the overall culture.

For instance, in one medical setting I know of, doctors said that their team of nurses collaborated with them over 70% of the time while nurse put the number closer to 30%. Why the difference? Doctors defined collaborating as any time the nurses did what they were told. Nurses defined it as any time both doctors and nurses created a solution together. You need clarity on what team means and what you have to do to be considered a ‘team player’.

This is a good time (now that you’re calmer) to approach the second manager for a talk. Let this person know that you’re aware of the comments and that you’d like to share your thoughts about it. Remember, this isn’t a time to be defensive or blame others (which might make the manager wonder, right). Your goal is to demonstrate that you are a good team player who is open to coaching and sharing with her team.

Thanks for keeping a cool head and good luck with the talk. Thanks for writing to Office-Politics.



Dina Beach Lynch, Mediator

Dina Beach Lynch, is an Ombudsman, Author and former attorney. An award-winning mediator, Dina served as the Corporate Ombudsman for the 7th largest bank in the US helping over 48,000 employees to resolve workplace issues.

  1. One Answer to “They say I am not a team worker but I am the only one on the team”

  2. I have been accused of not being a team player. In the same meeting I was told that I interfere too much. I was told that I should be quiet if I hear people looking for solutions to problems and wait until they ask me directly. I was also told I should get up occasionally, walk around and talk to other members of the team but not about work.

    By Teri on Oct 29, 2006

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