Poor Teamwork

When teams become exhausting

Poor Teamwork

When teams become exhausting

Poor teamwork can be a major drain on energy in any team. But it can be a particular problem when trying to develop your team after the start-up stage.

There may be many reasons for poor teamwork but often it’s because one or several individuals try to dominate the group. This 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 our STAR team model, in this article we consider how to help identify and overcome poor teamwork.

What is Teamwork?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. But whatever stage your team is at, 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 may not be accepted or undermined, and an attitude of “I’ll do as I want” of “I know best” can take precedent. As a result team effectiveness may be reduced, especially if other team members start to take defensive positions.

Why might individuals cause problems when working with the team? There can be numerous reasons so here are a few areas to look out for. Problem individuals may be:

  • Lacking clarity in their role, or even why they are part of the team.
  • Feeling they do not have appropriate skills for the team or tasks allocated to them.
  • Low in confidence in their ability to contribute or succeed.
  • Lacking the will to commit or perform to team standards.
  • Hiding the real reasons they may feel insecure or uncommitted.
  • Driven by personal goals which are substantially different to the team’s goals.
  • Adversely affected by personal issues or situations
  • Frustrated or badly affected by past experiences which might be personal or work-related.
  • In conflict with other individuals in the team.
  • Lacking confidence in or respect for others in the team.
  • Believing they know best or are superior to the team leader or other team members.
  • Simply the wrong ‘fit’ for the team.

The first approach to address poor teamwork should be to talk with any  individuals 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. Talk through some or all of the above points to explore issues and possible resolutions. 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. Ensure its goals and results are developed and confirmed together, with all members contributing to this process. It’s also a good idea for team leaders to talk through the team stages process, highlighting the way teams develop. This helps all team members to see the potential pitfalls associated with poor teamwork, and understand where the focus needs to be as the team develops.

Taking time to encourage the team to agree a teamwork ethos also establishes some of the boundaries for the way individuals are expected to behave. If you are taking over an existing team, where there seems to be 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 committed 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 development, a good place to start might be thinking about why teamwork is important or how you define teamwork, before reminding yourself of the benefits of teamwork.

Building better teams

Teams e-guidesIf you want to put our teamwork concept into action, you’ll find more information and a wealth of practical resources, in our colossal Team Building Bundle.

Containing 240 pages and 50 tools, these are the 8 key guides we recommend to help you do more than define teamwork, build it!

Why is Teamwork Important
Build a Better Team
The Problems with Teams
Team Health Check
Team Building Exercises
Leading with Style and Focus
What’s the Problem?
Making Better Decisions

These are fantastic little e-books, very thorough, easy to follow

We’ve used [the guides] as support tools for learners on our talent management programmes which has saved me a lot of time and a lot of money. I’d definitely recommend them.

Kieleigh - United Kingdom

Looking for more teams resources?

Try our great value e-guides

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn More

Got It