Positive and Negative Roles of Team Members in Multi-Cultural Teams

Each member of a multi-cultural team can play one or more roles, and their roles can change throughout the life of the team. These team member roles can affect the team positively or negatively, depending on when and to what extent they are used.

Successful teams demand active participation from team members to ensure the flow of needed information and inquiry required to move a team forward. However, domination by one or more team members can be unproductive, drag the rest of the team down and block other members from participating. Team members should seek out and provide constructive criticism of ideas, but over scrutinizing and dissecting every idea has negative consequences.

Tension releases, such as joking and coordinated distractions, can diffuse anxieties and improve productivity, but when used poorly they can become distractions.

The following infographic prepared by 24 Hour Translation lists common examples of positive and negative roles that team members can play during the life of the team.

In a multi-cultural cross-functional business team, team members can take on positive and negative roles. These roles affect the productivity, efficiency and effectiveness of the team in reaching its goal.


Negative team member roles and behaviors that reduce a team from operating efficiently and effectively by discouraging participation, trust and cooperation include the following:

·  Blocking—disagreeing with everything that is proposed.

·  Controlling—trying to dominate the team by demanding, calling out others, and asserting control.

·  Playing—distracting the team with jokes and gags that waste time and prevent focused discussion.

·  Rambling—using any opportunity to speak and always chiming in on others’ statements.

·  Withdrawing—avoiding discussions, not sharing or participating, skipping meetings.


Positive team member roles and behaviors that promote trustworthiness, cooperation and mutual respect for others that allow a team to function efficiently and effectively include the following:

·   Inspiring others—encouraging participation by calling on others.

·   Relieving anxieties—making light when appropriate and recommending stress reducing activities.

·   Showing empathy—asking others about their feelings towards the team and their responsibilities.

·   Solving interpersonal problems

·   Listening actively —making team members feel wanted, welcome and necessary for contributing.

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