10 Ways to Deal with Distracting Teammates

I wrote a post about standing out.

Fitting in makes you irrelevant.

Doug responded by leaving a comment explaining a team member who stands out in a disruptive way.

leaders set boundaries

Doug wrote, “The problem now is the ideas and actions are so far off the basic needs of the organization they are not productive and are a distraction at almost every meeting… Any suggestions?”.

10 ways to deal with distracting teammates:

  1. Define purpose, goals, and objectives. What is the purpose of the meeting? What are the goals and results? Describe deliverables. “The purpose of this meeting is ….”
  2. Set goals and objectives together. You may opt for #1 or #2, depending on organizational culture. Be sure “Mrs. Disruptor” knows the goals.
  3. Invite team members to explain the purpose of the meeting in their own words. Use this strategy to test alignment. Be sure “Mr. Distraction” aligns with the purpose of the meeting, if not, he shouldn’t be in the meeting.
  4. Ask team members what they’d like to get out of the meeting.
  5. Invite the team to define success before offering suggestions on how to get there.
  6. Ask the disruptive team member what they want. “What are you trying to accomplish?”
  7. Tell the disruptive team member that their ideas are great, but they don’t apply to this situation. Leaders set boundaries and define success.
  8. Reassign or remove “Mr. Distraction.”
  9. Record the meeting and let “Miss Disruption” hear her own voice.
  10. Ask yourself if you’re missing something. Sometimes an irritating person is right.

Bonus: Use candor. After the meeting, say, “Your participation isn’t helping. What can we do about this?”


They say, “It’s all about talent.” But, it isn’t. It’s all about aligned talent. Misaligned talent drains, distracts, and disrupts.

Bonus material: How to fit in AND standout.

How might leaders deal with team members who are “off base?”