Thursday, 16 July 2015 08:14

When Teams Go Bad

If you’re striving to achieve success in your work, it’s incredibly important to have a team around you that supports a unified vision, discipline and enthusiasm to achieve common objectives. All too often, employers report bad attitudes within a team, which they feel unable to overcome.

When teams go bad it significantly affects the running of an organisation, hindering progress and productivity at every level. This is why it has to be addressed and resolved as soon as possible.

Is it true that management is unable to overcome this situation? The team is, after all, a reflection of the leaders.

Impacts of a Dysfunctional Team
It’s no secret that teams who work well together will achieve greater results, whether it’s a joint effort to securing a large contract or having a unified approach to customer service. All these efforts of a team working in harmony will go a long way towards peak performance.

However, a team is made up of individuals, which all have unique personality traits, strengths and weaknesses, which if not handled correctly can cause a team to become dysfunctional and have a detrimental effect on team work.

It may be that you have one individual who has upset the balance in a team and is causing disruption or an entire team that is disengaged and unmotivated. The reasons for these upsets can be attributed to a number of reasons, poor leadership, a lack of team morale or a poorly run organisation. Either way the impacts can be have a drastic outcome on the working environment and the overall success of a department or company.

A dysfunctional team often leads to behavioural problems within a group; with members actively looking to create a negative atmosphere or standout to demonstrate a point. Working in such a close environment, means that these negative emotions will inevitably affect the rest of the team, whether they seek to be involved or not. With the emphasis on negative emotions rather than focusing on carrying out work tasks toward the vision, this can cause a breakdown in the team dynamic, with members working individually rather than taking a unified approach. This in turn will have a knock-on effect with team motivation, performance levels and the day to day functioning of the business.

Without resolution these negative emotions can create an unworkable environment, where a team is unmotivated, unengaged and unproductive, which will seriously affect a business’s output and profit margins, as well as the overall success of a company.

Leadership and Teams

When faced with a dysfunctional team that needs to get back to peak performance, the best leaders will do the following:
  • identify people who are disrupting the team and work with them to determine if they have a valid point or not
  • if there are valid concerns in the team, address them and refocus the whole team clearly on the vision and goals
  • if the concerns are not justified, remove the team member from the team but support them in another endeavour
  • work with each team member to re-engage their passion
  • make sure the vision and goal is described well enough that all team members can see the value of it
  • reinforce good behaviours and results among team members
  • spend more time with the team until they are back on track - leaders should be visible in difficulty, and less so when things are going well
  • do all these while demonstrating the positive, supportive and engaging environment you want
Shifting the focus of the behavioural tendencies to more positive emotions and common goals will go some way to dealing with the problem, but a complete reassessment of the team dynamic, business procedures, working environment and leadership values may see a long-term resolution to a dysfunctional team.



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Published in Thought Leadership