By Michael Holland

Teams, teams, they are everywhere.  Many think that just surviving together through the drudgery of the work week makes the group a team.  Many think that having a moniker – the senior leadership team, the accounts payable team, the special super-secret project team – creates a truly cohesive and functional team.  The reality is most people may have only had one team in their whole life where they were able to feel the beauty and productivity and success of a well-functioning team.

So in Jeff Foxworthy-esque style, here are several ways you can tell if you might have a dysfunctional team.

  • If you’re team meets for an hour and you received 100 emails from those in the room during the meeting . . . then you might have a dysfunctional team.
  • If your team is in full agreement with zero debate on your nifty idea . . . then you might have a dysfunctional team.
  • If when you mention the word trust to your team everyone in the room is visualizing an episode from the House of Cards with Frank’s wry smile . . . then you might have a dysfunctional team.
  • If your “team building” event includes a trust fall exercise and you know for sure they won’t catch you . . . then you might have a dysfunctional team.
  • If people on your team spend more time creating plans to avenge a perceived wrong than it takes to prepare and deliver all the performance reviews in the company . . . then you might have a dysfunctional team.
  • If your sales executive peer purposely closes a huge sale at the end of a quarter in order to make his bonus knowing full well his operations peers won’t be able to deliver on the sale . . . then you might have a dysfunctional team.
  • If your team sits within 10 yards of each other and only communicates electronically . . . then you might have a dysfunctional team.
  • If when you arrive at the weekly staff meeting, the new guy has taken your seat – the same one you have sat in for 4 years – and you spend the whole week fuming over it . . . then you might have a dysfunctional team.
  • If when the tech guys say “trust me” you can only think about just how bad the technology project is going to be . . . then you might have a dysfunctional team.
  • If during the crisis meeting for a major problem the word “they” – as in they didn’t do, they should’ve known, if they had checked, if they had done their job, if they weren’t idiots – instead of the word “we”. . . then you might have a dysfunctional team.

And finally, if you can watch this 2 minute video of Patrick Lencioni talking about the importance of cohesive teams and not want to invest time and energy to move yourself and your team forward . . .  well, then, I hope I’m never on a team with you.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • Why do you think teams struggle to be fully effective?  Call a friend at another organization and talk about the question with them.
  • Make a list of all the teams you are on and rate the functionality/dysfunctionality of each team on a scale that makes sense to you.  What does this list reveal to you?
  • Is a highly cohesive team an unrealistic endeavor?  Why? Why not?