Poor Teamwork – When Teams Become Exhausting
Poor teamwork can be a major drain on energy in any team. It is a particular problem when moving from start-up to developing a team. Often it is because one or several individuals start to try and dominate the group. It tends to happen when individuals try to impose solutions to meet their own needs, which are often in conflict with the needs of the team.
Continuing our series on stages of team development using out STAR team model, in this article we consider how to help a team to perform.
Whilst every team and context is different There are stages to avoid when developing teams. The STAR team model suggests that effective teamwork in the workplace happens when four elements (Strengths, Teamwork, Alignment and Results) are in place:
- Individuals flourish as they use and develop their Strengths
- People come together building relationships that result in effective Teamwork
- The team leader Aligns the team through effective communication of purpose, so that individual strengths combine with teamwork to deliver the teams results
- Together everyone achieves more as performance flows and Results that are meaningful and rewarding to the team are achieved
A different emphasis and focus for each of the STAR model elements is needed at different stages of the team’s development. However too much emphasis on the individual can cause significant problems.
Instead of individual strengths coming together, what you often see is the weaknesses of individuals surfacing. Team ethic is not accepted and an attitude of “I’ll do as I want” takes precedent. As a result team performance reduces and other team members start to take defensive positions.
Why might individuals cause problems working with the team? There can be numerous reasons why an individual ends up causing problems in a team. Here are a few areas to look out for:
- An individual is hiding the real reason that they feel insecure
- Lack of skills
- Lack of confidence
- Lack of will
- Lack of clarity (don’t know why they are part of the team)
- They have different goals to the team
- They are frustrated by past experiences
- Conflict with other characters in the team (they don’t get on)
- Believing they know best
The first approach to address poor teamwork should be to talk with the individual concerned and ask them if they have any problems/frustrations with being a part of the team. Ask them where they see their strengths, what their goals are, and where they feel they can contribute. Many of the reasons for conflict can be resolved by providing appropriate support and encouragement.
Much can also be done by ensuring that the team starts properly with its goals and results clarified together with all members contributing to this process. It is also easier to manage if during the early stages the team leader has talked through the team stages process and highlighted the way the teams develop, so that all team members can see the potential pitfalls associated with poor teamwork, and understand where the focus needs to be.
Agreeing together a teamwork ethos also establishes some of the boundaries for the way individuals behave in the team. If you are taking over an existing team where there is poor teamwork, then starting with establishing what the team understands as effective teamwork will help to address many of the attitudinal issues.
Poor teamwork can become exhausting, particularly if you are dealing with individuals who are not commited to the team. Dealing early with the issues can prevent problems emerging later in the team’s development.
If you do have the time to read more on this topic, why not go to our teamwork articles. To read more of about our teamwork concept – the STAR team model- see our articles teamwork theories,teamwork defined and teamwork in the workplace. For a more general introduction to team a good place to start might be to think through why is teamwork important , or you may want to think about how you define teamwork or reminding yourself of the benefits of teamwork.