Have you ever been part of a team that just can’t get things done, not gelling or are continually bickering?
Team dysfunction can make you feel like tearing your hair out! Dysfunction in teams is far more common than people think.
We’ve worked with hundreds of teams, many in crisis, many with dysfunction from front-line teams to Executive teams! Here is what we find are the 10 most common elements contributing to a dysfunctional team.
In almost all cases, dysfunctional teams lack a strong leader. Most teams require a strong leader, who is emotionally intelligent, competent and cares about the team and its results. The Team Leaders’ role is to ensure coherence, cohesiveness and equity within the team, to facilitate creation of compelling team’s objectives, keep the team focused, provide effective and constructive feedback, review performance, encourage collaboration, facilitate learning and sharing, and ensure all team members are driving to agreed team outcomes and goals.
- Clear Team Purpose & Objectives
A dysfunctional team often doesn’t have a clear purpose/objectives. When you ask, why does the team exist, you may get 12 different answers. Articulating a purpose that all team members share and buy into is critical. Objectives and purpose need to be aligned. Ensuring clear, unequivocal team objectives is critical to performance.
- Team Charter/Values
A dysfunctional team has often failed to create a shared view of its’ Team Charter. I.e. how we want to behave towards each other, what is acceptable and unacceptable, what the team stands for in terms of its values.
- Team Members
Dysfunctional teams often have one or more team members who are more interested in their individual achievement than the teams’ achievement. It is critical to ensure all team members pull together to achieve team objectives. Whilst some team members will be star performers, a strong team use this to their advantage and grow the whole team. If there are under-performing team members, performance issues need to be nipped in the bud swiftly.
- Team Reward
Related to the above, if individual team members are rewarded based solely on personal achievement, this will run contrary to team behaviours. These models tend to create more competition, more individual focus and more dysfunction. We recommend a blended approach to reward.
Whilst all successful teams play to their strengths, when some team members are allowed to “slack off” or “not pull their weight” (as perceived by other team members) resentment and dysfunction is created quickly. A successful high performing team knows individual strengths and work together to accomplish their team goals by equitably sharing the workload and pulling together.
More often than not, dysfunctional teams lack focus and clarity. This can be in terms of roles, responsibilities, accountabilities, support, communication, information, team goals & outcomes. High performing teams tend to be crystal clear on these things.
Dysfunctional teams tend to lack accountability. They push back deadlines, or just plain fail to deliver. There is often a fair amount of finger pointing and blame. Creating individual and team accountability is critical to success.
- Decision making & empowerment
Dysfunctional teams lack decisiveness and/or empowerment. They flop around awaiting decisions from the leader or someone else. It is critical for high performing teams to have the right empowerment and decision making responsibilities and competencies.
Underlying most dysfunction, is mistrust. I have never yet come across a dysfunctional that has strong trust and respect amongst team members and of the team leader. Trust is the first element in any relationship, and teams are no exception. As soon as trust issues become apparent, it is critical for the leader to take action to rectify the situation. A deep lack of trust is very difficult to come back from. Trust can be the most difficult component to resolve and in our experience, most team building events with dysfunctional teams fails to address this critical issue.
If you have a dysfunctional team or one in crisis, we can help!