Practically dysfunctional

Every team I have been on and come across seems to have some common theme of dysfunction for a lack of a better word.

From my experience, this day-to-day dysfunction in very practical aspects can derail
any project or strategic plan if not hinder it substantially.

On the flip side, it could also be looked at as areas of improvement and aspects
for the team to engage on.

Better yet, it could be themes leadership works on with the team as facilitator or

Allow me to share these ten elements that I have come across and ask you some
questions and you see if you can relate or have seen these elements.

I do realize there are many others and one very important aspect I have spoken
about many times is trust which is not on my list below yet could be at the
foundation of a lot of these elements.

I will start by listing them all:

Poor communication: emails vs. face-to-face vs. on-site vs. remote

Lack of clear roles and responsibilities

Disconnect among staff, “are we really a team?”

Disconnect among leaders of different team > Same issue dealt with very differently +
them vs. us

Unclear expectations at all levels and directions

Ineffective meetings

Hard to reach final decisions

Lack of clarity of action plan amongst the team once decisions are made

Feedback within the team given badly and taken badly > walking on eggshells + low EQ

Lack of feedback, recognition, and praise from upper leadership

Does any of this sound familiar?

To start at the beginning, when I ask people what elements constitute a well function team, the most common answer I get is “good communication.”

When I ask a second-level question, asking the individual to expand on this, they can’t usually give me more examples.

Does good communication mean more meetings?

Does it mean more talking?

Does it mean more memos?

Or, can it mean something more specific and tangible?

For example, one question I ask teams is how will they will deal with conflicts when they arise?

Not "if" they arise, "when" they arise.

I have never received a clear answer to this question, and I have posed it many times.

More recently, I have come across many people on various team frustrated with inconsistent communication among colleagues with some staff working on-site and some staff working from home.

This is a new element that I suggest teams get ahead of by discussing openly and in advance of breakdowns in communication.

Next, a lack of clear roles and responsibilities can often lead to role ambiguity which can lead to more conflicts and subsequently stress.

“It’s not my job.” “I did not know I was expected to do that.” “That is the responsibility of the other team.”

If any of this sounds familiar, work on getting everyone together and openly discuss these gray zones.

Another common theme I have seen is one whereby a group of workers call themselves a team when in fact, they work independently, and their roles don’t necessarily interact.

Interestingly, I have come across workers who even after recognizing their work is done near 100% independently, insist on calling themselves a team perhaps for social reasons or because it sound good?

To me, it is ok to recognize that even if we work for the same organization, we don’t necessarily work in a team and we can still bring value to the organization.

If you are not really a team, you don’t have to call yourself a team and don’t waste time trying to do make-work teamwork.

For the sake of brevity, I won’t elaborate on all the ten elements yet will skip to ineffective meetings and end here.

As you likely know, an entire industry of literature and training exists to improve upon ineffective meetings.

What I have found to be important is to first admit and have consensus that the current meeting model is ineffective.

Next, the team should ask themselves a series of questions such as what will be the specific goal or objective of any meeting?

What new model might be used?

What are the proposed benefits of the meeting?

How will success be measured?

And, if the model does not work, change it.

Meetings can indeed be ineffective and frustrating, yet I have found when you have amazing meetings, you want more of them. This especially the case when having meetings with individuals who are professional, passionate about what they do and have the competence to do the work.

As always, food for thought and in the case of this segment, I hope the thought will lead to action as if you don’t do something different, you should not expect a different result.