I get a little nervous anytime I hear someone make that assessment of someone. It sounds too much like a character judgment. It’s too easy to say - and it’s a phrase with no teeth.
It implies she wants all the glory for herself. She’s willing to sacrifice the team the personal gain. He’s maliciously causing our team to fail. To not meet our quarterlies. To lose.
While there are some people who are probably that petty, most aren’t.
If I hear those words, my eye moves quickly to the manager - because that’s most likely where the solution lies.
She might be on the right team doing the wrong job.
The manager should move her to a place that better uses her skill set.
He might doing the right job, but on the wrong team.
This one can be a little tricker. Sometimes forcing certain personalities to play together is not only counter-productive, it’s also destructive.
She might be on the wrong kind of team altogether.
It’s pretty tough for a trained footballer who thinks and acts and reacts like a footballer to operate as a baseball player. That's not a sustainable situation. Help her find a football team (by football, I mean soccer). Help him find a team where he will thrive.
So when you hear those words “not a team player” - don’t immediately assume the person is flawed.