Subscribe to Inc. magazine
TEAM BUILDING

7 Reasons Good Teams Become Dysfunctional

Here are the most common habits of a dysfunctional team and how to change them so you can get your group back on track.

Have you ever been part of a team that just can't seem to get things done? Don't despair; it happens more than you think.

Here are the most common habits of a dysfunctional team and how to change them so you can get your group back on track.

1. Leadership

Dysfunctional teams lack a strong leader. A team needs a strong leader to identify the team's objective, maintain the group's focus on that end, and drive the team toward its established goal.

2. Team Members

Dysfunctional teams often have members more interested in individual glory and less interested in the team's objective. The goal of the team must always remain the team's focus. The quest for individual glory is contrary to the very concept of a team. As such, a true team needs members that are concerned only with how they can help the team achieve its goal and not what achieving the goal will be able to do for them individually.

3. Defined Goal

A dysfunctional team often fails to define its goal. A well-organized team defines its goal or goals from the outset and then sets out a road map as to how to get there.

4. Equitable Distribution

Dysfunctional teams disproportionately place too much of the team's work on a few of its members' shoulders. This is contrary to the entire concept of the team. If one person is going to do everything, why have a team to begin with? It is wasteful. A successful team combines individuals who come together to accomplish the defined goal and spread the work load evenly across team members. Each person is necessary to achieve the goal.

5. Focus

Dysfunctional teams lack focus. They may convene to discuss an issue but get caught up in seemingly endless debate surrounding a general topic while never moving toward an ultimate goal. A team needs to maintain its focus on achieving its defined goal.

6. Accountability

Dysfunctional teams lack accountability. They push back deadlines, or worse, they ponder theoretical questions without defined goals in mind. Moving back deadlines or simply gathering to endlessly pontificate without defined goals leads to a lack of accountability. Without accountability, it is easy to lose focus on the team's goal. A successful team maintains its accountability to achieving its ultimate end.

7. Decisiveness

Dysfunctional teams lack decisiveness. Often flowing from a strong team leader, a team needs to be decisive. Consider facts, draw conclusions on the basis of the best available information, and make a decision. A team's goal must always be to make a decision and then to act to accomplish its goal or make recommendations as required to do so.

More:
Last updated: Sep 27, 2012

MATTHEW SWYERS | Columnist | Founder, The Trademark Company

Matthew Swyers is the founder of The Trademark Company, a Web-based law firm specializing in protecting the trademark rights of small to medium-size businesses. The company is ranked No. 138 on the 2011 Inc. 500.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



Register on Inc.com today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments
EMAIL
PASSWORD
EMAIL
FIRST NAME
LAST NAME
EMAIL
PASSWORD

Or sign up using: