A manager once described his team to me as Adders, Dividers and Multipliers. I also heard a similar theory on NPR’s Fresh Air. Specifically about baseball players, but it applies to any team.
These people do their jobs. You add them to a team and they pull their weight. They are solid players, but don’t have much affect on those around them. It’s not terrible to have these people on your team. Not everyone is a superstar. However, it’s hard to scale your success with just Adders.
These are people who complain and have a bad attitude. They may do their work (or not), but they bring other people down. I have seen many people who are like this. They suck the energy out of others and make people want to go home. They come in late and leave early. They follow the rules, even when they don’t make sense. They are passive aggressive. Overall, these people will ruin your team. I am not sure if they can be spoken to and change their attitude. Maybe they can. Try, but if it doesn’t work, they need to be removed.
The greatest people on the team are those who not only pull their own weight, but go out of their way to make others do better. They multiply the effort of others by mentoring, being a good example, diffusing tension and other intangible behavior. Sometimes, someone who knows just the right thing to say at the right moment. Some people are just plain inspiring. Whatever the details are, you want these people on the team.
I use these overly simplistic qualifiers to judge (sorry) people I meet in a professional capacity. It would be cool if LinkedIn had some measure of your add/divider/multiplier functions.