How To Correct And Improve Dysfunctional Teams

How To Correct And Improve Dysfunctional Teams

Teams that are dysfunctional create major problems in terms of delivering against objectives and delivering quality products and services – even worse if the team is customer-facing! Having a Team with poor and unhealthy behaviours and attitudes needs to be challenged and dealt with as quickly as possible.

How can I recognise that my team is dysfunctional?

The symptoms of a dysfunctional Team are described below:

  • Absence of Trust – The fear of being vulnerable with team members prevents the building of trust within the team. Individuals conceal their weaknesses, are reluctant to give any feedback, jump to conclusions and hold grudges that get in the way of progress.
  • Fear of Conflict – The desire to preserve artificial harmony stifles the occurrence of productive and healthy conflict over direction and processes being used. There is a strong culture of back-channel politics, strong and unhealthy personal agendas which do nothing to create to Team goals and important tasks and issues are frequently ignored.
  • Lack of Commitment – The lack of clarity or buy-in prevents team members from making decisions they will stick to.This creates ambiguity about direction and priorities where windows of opportunity close due to excessive analysis and second-guessing.
  • Avoidance of Accountability – The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding one another accountable.This creates an atmosphere of resentment among team members who have high standards of performance, encourages mediocrity with deadlines and deliverables frequently missed. Here there is an unacceptable burden on leaders to be the sole source of discipline.
  • Inattention to Results – The pursuit of individual goals and personal status erodes the focus on collective success allowing Teams and individuals to stagnate and fail to grow, rarely defeating competitors, having poor staff retention figures and losing achievement-oriented employees. This then encourages team members to focus on their own careers and individual goals, becoming easily distracted from the goals of the organisation.

Without conflict, there can be no commitment. Without trust, there can be no conflict. Without accountability, there are no results. Without commitment, there can be no accountability.

Remedies for you to use are given below:

How To Build Trust

  • Personal Histories: know your staff and understand what makes them tick!
  • Team Effectiveness Exercises; getting the Team to work collaboratively rather than working with a collection of individuals pulling in different directions.
  • Using 360-degree feedback so that individuals can see how their behaviour impacts upon others.
  • Lead by example: show how you manage to bring out cohesion with a focus upon long-term success.
  • Protect the team by accepting responsibility for team’s mistakes: be a shield while you work upon the development of Trust
  • Quickly resolve problems

How To Reduce Conflict

  • Have the courage and confidence to challenge Team members as necessary to get work processes moving in a healthy manner.
  • Understand the different characteristics and abilities of Team members and use this to channel more positive actions and outcomes.
  • Publicly state that it is a healthy feature of a productive Team to have conflict around ideas as this adds to creativity and exploration of issues.
  • Allow conflict resolution to occur naturally as often as possible.
  • Protect team members from harm, by maintaining focus on ideas
  • Engage in healthy conflict, when necessary, as an example

How To Increase Commitment

  • Consistent Messaging to the Team regarding priorities and targets sop that everyone knows what is expected and by when.
  • Using Contingency and Worst-Case Scenario Analysis to inform actions.
  • Delegation in Low-Risk Situations.
  • Creating certainty through commitment to actions – if you deliver on your actions the Team will do the same.
  • Setting clear deadlines and pushing the Team for closure of issues.
  • Adherence to accepted schedules.

How To Increase Accountability

  • Insist upon public goals and standards so that everyone knows what is expected in terms of performance.
  • Running simple, effective and regular progress reviews.
  • Having Team-based recognition Actions.
  • Allowing the Team to serve as the first and primary accountability mechanism – the leader is not required!

How To Increase Attention To Results

  • Announce publicly results and achievements of the Team – make this a regular feature of business as usual.
  • Put results at the centre of all Team actions and reviews.


Work continually on the above to make your Team a High Performing Team!

Good Luck!

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