Work Culture

4 Symptoms Of A Dysfunctional Team Dynamics & Reasons Behind It

By on May 23, 2017

The difference between success and failure is a great team: teams that consistently excel at achieving their goals. They aren’t great because they consist of smart, talented or passionate individuals. They are great because these individuals collaborate to motivate and drive each other to give their best. The result is often extraordinary success. The importance of having great teams has been emphasized by one of the greatest innovators of our generation, the Late Steve Jobs.

My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys who kept each others’ negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person. They are done by a team of people.

– Steve Jobs

For the organisation to succeed, visionary Leadership is just one of the 3 pillars. The other 2 are a clearly defined Vision and Teamwork. Despite having the other 2, if the teams do not work together to deliver as per expectations, chances of failure are quite high. It is wise to identify in time whether you have great or mediocre teams working for you. While any great team’s work speaks for itself, mediocre teams appear dysfunctional.

What are the symptoms of a dysfunctional team:

Lack of clear direction:

Dysfunctional teams show signs of low engagement levels in the organisation. They are not aware of what is expected of them or what could be the implications of their efforts on the company goals. According to a Gallup study, about 50% employees agree that they know what is expected at work. The rest just show up daily at the workplace, carry out a series of tasks assigned by their managers and leave for the day.

Most of these teams fail because they are unable to see the bigger picture. The problem does not lie with them alone. Their managers or even the workplace dynamics can be responsible for low employee engagement. Individuals in the organisation need to have a clear path laid out in front of them, clearly indicating the start and end points. They need to be trained and equipped with the right tools to handle their responsibilities.

Low or non-existent motivation:

Low motivation is one of the biggest productivity killer in the organisation. It results in consistent poor performance, not being engaged in work and high dissatisfaction. Factors that affect motivation could be either extrinsic (work environment, salary, safety, benefits and perks) or intrinsic (growth, achievement, recognition, etc). What’s worse is that if you don’t take steps to increase motivation soon, it might just spread throughout the organisation.

No accountability:

If your teams are failing to reach deadlines on a regular basis, despite having a clear set of goals, then they clearly lack accountability. Accountable employees own up to the responsibility of their actions. On the other hand, members of a dysfunctional team tend to refuse being accountable for their actions or decisions. They blame one another for failing to deliver results as planned.

Unhealthy competition:

Are your team members constantly trying to sabotage each other’s chances at success? Then yes, you have a dysfunctional team on your hand. These teammates refuse to help each other in achieving their goals as it might elevate the successful ones above the rest. Rather than let anyone reach for higher performance levels, they tend to pull the few motivated individuals down to maintain the level of mediocrity. This way no one is rewarded or recognised for their efforts. Everyone’s performance levels thus appear to be consistent and at same levels.

What are the causes that create dysfunctional teams

  • In the absence of a positive work culture, employees lose motivation to give their best. It affects overall organisational productivity levels as well as employees’ well being.
  • Managers that do not promote 2 way communication prohibit their team members from approaching for guidance or seeking feedback. If there is no clear understanding of expectations, employees are unable to meet them. Thus, it would appear that they are not performing well.
  • One of the basic mistakes is hiring the wrong people. If the candidate is not suited to the work environment, despite having high credentials, then it is a complete mismatch. Such candidates will not be able to work in collaboration with their teammates.

The hallmark of a winning team is that the members support and motivate each other to give their best in reaching their goals. To build one, first make sure that your company promotes a positive work culture.

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