How does one person affect a team?

Watching my local NFL team this year has been a trying experience.  Last night, the bottom was hit (we hope!) when the New Orleans Saints dismantled the Indianapolis Colts 62-7.  I know my friend Robin Schooling was at the game and was among those celebrating an epic performance by their football team.  Congratulations to the Saints!

Peyton Manning after winning the AFC championship (Photo courtesy of

Many of the Colts fans around here are wondering and asking aloud about the presence of one person and the difference it makes.  That person (of course) is #18, Peyton Manning.  As the season started, everyone was saying that one person, while important, does not make a team successful on his own.  However, from an HR perspective, I have to ask is that statement really true? 

Thinking back on the many teams I’ve been part of over the years, there have been times when one person made a difference on the team.  Now, I have not personally experienced a situation where one person’s departure created such a loss that even with other high performers present, the entire operation suffered like has appeared to happen with the Colts this year.  There have been times when overall performance declined.  In some cases, things picked back up after a time while during other transitions the team dynamic never quite reaches the same point again.  It is also important to note that at times the difference one person made was not a positive one and team performance actually improved after that person departed.  We had that recently where a team member left and even being one person down, the overall measurable performance of the department improved because the amount of fixing that occurred from the one person’s errors kept other things from getting done.

Although no one person should ever be irreplaceable, it is important to remember that a change in team members will change the team dynamic.  Some of the changes may be small while others large.  Let’s hope that your team’s Peyton Manning isn’t sidelined for the season and that the teammates you replace are ones that keep the team from being the best it can be.

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2 Responses to How does one person affect a team?

  1. Being the Monday morning game analysts that we all are, the discussions I had yesterday centered around the impact that 1 person (in this case Peyton) can have on the overall team. Obviously removing the quarterback should have zero impact on how the defense plays, but it seems that it has in this case. Is the entire team demoralized? Have they ‘given up?’ Do they figure this season is a lost cause?

    As you mention, it goes to team dynamic. Can you imagine the change in the atmosphere and the gloom and doom in the Colts locker room?

    Interesting stuff at play here. I surely am glad we won the game (decisively no less), but I do feel bad for the Colts and their fans; it’s tough to watch your beloved team struggle.

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