Employer Branding

5 Traits of a Dysfunctional Team

Every HR manager strives to cultivate a positive culture at the workplace. However, doing so isn’t easy. Every employee is unique and different. This sometimes creates problems between the team members and stops them from working towards a common goal. Most employees stay professional and don’t let differences come in the way of their work.

Nonetheless, that doesn’t stop the negativity to loom over their workplace environment. If not tackled immediately, it may lead to dysfunction and can even affect the overall productivity of the entire team. Now that’s one situation no HR Manager wishes to ever want to deal with. Yet, dealing with dysfunctional teams is a very common problem faced by the organizations.

Getting people with conflicting thoughts and views to work together in harmony is tough but it is not impossible. In fact, those who can achieve this tough task will become valuable assets in the eyes of their current as well as prospective employers. However, to tackle the situation before it turns grave, it is important that you identify the same at an early stage. Patrick Lencioni talked about the dysfunctions of a team in his bestselling book, ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’. The book describes the problems people face when trying to work together towards achieving common goals.

HR Managers can apply the knowledge shared in the book to their advantage. It basically talks about identifying the following signs:

1. The team lacks trust

The members of a dysfunctional team lack clarity and are constantly worried about being wrong. Lack of clarity prevents them from making decisions in a definitive and timely manner. At the same time, committing to decisions becomes difficult for the team members. Over a period of time, it may leave employees feeling discontented and compelled to change their team or department.

2. The team members fear conflict

Dysfunctional teams fear conflict to an extent that they feel more comfortable working in artificial harmony. Team members pretend to be on board with ideas they don’t even agree with just to avoid heated discussions and conflict. However, they don’t realize that healthy conflict is necessary for producing great results.

3. The team is not committed

When there is a lack of trust and conflict, it ultimately leads to lack of commitment among the team members. It is a dangerous problem as non-committed team members don’t feel compelled to discuss critical tasks which ultimately leads to delay in the decision-making process. They may also feel that nobody cares about their opinions and hence may not want to contribute to discussions at all. Lack of commitment creates greater problems when even after the team has decided upon a particular course of actions, the individuals in the team seem to be working according to their own will.

4. The team does not focus on the results 

The biggest sign of a dysfunctional team is that its team members put their own needs ahead of the team’s collective goals. For them, their ego, personal growth, and recognition are more important than working together as a team to achieve common goals. This desire for individual credit takes away the focus of team members from the collective success. They lose sight of the ultimate goal which ultimately hinders the growth of the company.

5. The team members avoid taking accountability

Another positive trait of a dysfunctional team is that it lacks accountability. When people lack accountability they lose sight of team goals. Pushing back deadlines becomes a common phenomenon among such teams. In worst cases, you may even find team members preoccupied with things not relevant to the task at hand and work without any clarity on goals.

Identifying the dysfunctional traits affecting the performance of the concerned team early and taking immediate corrective actions can help you build a more cohesive team. Watch out for the above-mentioned signs before it gets late.

About the author: Megha Raizada is a professional writer working with the premium job portal She has a keen interest in the global job market but also loves to keep a track of everything interesting happening around the globe. 

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