7 Signs of Team Dysfunction That Signal Your Team Needs Help


Teams can be challenging. Working in a team that is highly functioning creates energy, commitment, and innovation. However, many team members lack the skills or willingness, to be honest, direct, truthful and supportive of one another. How can you tell?

When these 7 Factors are present, you need your Team Dynamics expert on speed dial:

  1. “It’s the way we’ve always done it” – this is the mantra of individuals who are adverse to change. Their comfort zone is so solidly entrenched that they are not open to new ideas or improved processes (even if it would make their work lives easier).
  2. “We need to check with the boss before …” – the decision-making processes and communications are funneled through the manager. This manager-centric team cannot function as they don’t have sufficient autonomy to make simple decisions and improvements as the manager is the only one who makes the decisions.
  3. “It’s not in my job description” – this is a symptom of a team lacking commitment and collaboration. Rather than assisting with each other’s work, individuals become territorial.
  4. “Did you hear about what (insert name(s) here) did?” – this is proverbial water cooler gossip session. Rather than speaking directly with a team member about a concern, it appears easier to criticize and bash them behind their back. This behaviour creates a buzz of negativity that prevents real solutions to interpersonal conflict to be resolved.
  5. “It was (insert name(s) here) fault, if they had only…” – the old blame game is at work. By blaming others, team members divert attention from their own behaviour and create a dynamic of low trust and defensiveness. When there is an environment of low trust, people end up in anxiety and worry about how they will be perceived resulting in lower outputs.
  6. “I’m not going to say anything in the meeting, but …” – this lack of risking taking and indirect communication prevents healthy conflict that may result in resolving differences. Because the team doesn’t openly explore different perspectives collaboration and innovative solutions are stymied.
  7. “The deadline was never going to work anyway.” – finding excuses for not reaching project deadlines vs. taking the time to problem solve a better solution. When team members aren’t talking with candid respect to find solutions to potential barriers to a project, solutions and deadlines are missed resulting in poor productivity.

If your team is experiencing these dynamics, hiring a Coach or Consultant knowledgeable in team dynamics is imperative to finding solutions and to create that highly functioning team.

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