How Do You Identify Troubled Teams?

There are a few signs that teams are not working well. If teams don’t have trust, don’t share thoughts and ideas, don’t find ways to work together, and don’t accept each other’s differences and support each other, there can be trouble.

Why teams matter

If you’ve ever been to a team-building workshop, you might remember an instructor giving a problem to different people sitting alone. Then, they gave the same problem to a group of people sitting at a table. Many times, the group came up with a better solution than the individuals. There are also some great real life examples of this in an article on the Crossover Blog called, 7 Studies That Prove People Work Better in Teams, by Ian Gilles. When teams work well together, they can do great work. But when they don’t work, it can be terrible for the people and the work itself. It can even cause productive and energetic people to lower their performance.

Here’s a team in action

Imagine you’re on a road trip with three pals and you don’t have a GPS. One person is doing the driving, one person has a map and tells the driver where to go, and the other watches the gas gauge, plans the rest stops and what they’ll see when they get there.

Signs of trouble in teams

  • When no one is being open and genuine about what they really think about the plans and how things are going. They’re pretending everything is ok, but it might not be.
  • Since no one says what’s really on their mind, there are no healthy disagreements. So, team members don’t learn from each other and come up with the best solutions to travel better.
  • The choices and actions feel like commands since no one adds their ideas and thoughts. When team members aren’t heard, they are not as interested or excited about following through on their jobs.
  • Their attitude can slide too. They might not do their jobs very well, but no one will say anything because no one is talking and being honest.
  •  Team members will only pay attention to getting ahead for themselves. They won’t help each other or see ways that they can work together. It’s every woman and man for themselves. 

To learn more about these signs, checkout the video called, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” originally developed by Patrick Lencioni and presented by Antony Shave.  In it, Antony explains how things can fall apart.

It’s easy to see that if everyone in the car acted this way, they would all be going nowhere fast. But there is hope.

How to treat troubled teams

If organizations do the opposite of these actions, they should see big differences in how their teams are working.  Also, as described in this Deloitte article entitled, “Turnaround Strategies for Dysfunctional Teams,” written by Ajit Kambil, there are many other ways to make teams healthier and better. 

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