4 Habits of highly dysfunctional teams


Teams that lag behind fail to inspire or align team members around a clear and compelling purpose. They also lack a shared understanding of the expectations of stakeholders, and a clear directive that will assist them in detecting and dealing with issues that arise. Essentially, struggling teams will be focussed upon themselves (fear of being fired or reprimanded by the company), whereas accelerating teams will be driven from a fear of being rejected by the customer.


A team that executes well will have a tight composition and a fit-for-purpose structure that allows team members to move fluidly into (and out of) roles as needed. Contrastingly, lagging teams will take their time addressing poor performers and will often have ambiguous accountabilities. There is also frequently a struggle to speak up to people in positions of power due to fear of retaliation.


Successful teams are those that are able to transform the organisations they lead, as well as the way that they lead them, because competition doesn’t allow for inertia. This is done by developing an outward focus (to improve stakeholder relationships), while inwardly building the trust and honesty necessary to tackle new challenges as a team. One key sign of a low-performing team is that they often have certain members dominating discussions (which distorts decision-making). The best teams will have practices for overcoming this, such as creating a rotating devil’s advocate role for team meetings.


Teams that lack agility tend to have inflexible roles and rely on hindsight and a fixation on past mistakes. They’ll frequently highlight the negatives, but are very slow to integrate the lessons from their mistakes. On the other hand, accelerating teams practice strong foresight and planning. Furthermore, they are willing to fail fast, continually monitoring the situation to help them quickly pull the plug on failing efforts.

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