Team Failures - Why teams fail and how to overcome it

In spite of the best intentions of the organization, as well as the best efforts put in by the team members, teams still fail. Team failure is due to various reasons.

It is highly important to understand as well as analyze these reasons. This is because the failure of a team affects the morale of the employees, besides affecting the organization financially too. The organization needs to eliminate as many reasons as it can in order to ensure team success.

These reasons can be further divided into broadly five categories:

  • Environmental Influences
  • Goals
  • Roles
  • Processes
  • Relationships
  1. Environmental Influences:

    • The team members may be placed at different location making it difficult for them to meet frequently. Hence a solution needs to be found to resolve this issue. Communication is vital for any team to work well. Physical distances can always be overcome with the use of technology.
    • The team is not given adequate resources in order to do its job. You cannot expect an employee to work with his hands tied, can you?
    • Team efforts can be recognized. This is a key human trait. Appreciation is a big morale booster for any employee.
    • A lack of recognition by the organization or its leaders about the existence of a team can also lead a team to its failure.
  2. Goals:

    • No participation from members in setting goals. This takes away the ownership from the team. It reduces the commitment of the team members.
    • Team is not clear about the goals. Communication is vital, whether to a team or to an organization.
    • Goals are not effectively communicated. Everybody is doing his own thing with no attention to team goals. Working in silos leads to duplication of work as well as ruining the organization culture.
  3. Roles:

    • Responsibilities of the team members are poorly defined. This leads to ambiguity as well as lack of commitment.
    • No clear leader identified. Leadership is vital to any team. A good leader outlines the strategy and charts the path to reach the goal.
    • There is buck-passing of responsibility, which shows lack of commitment.
    • Members indulge in power plays for authority and control. This is a problem of attitudes which needs to be managed accordingly by the leader and the organization. Members refuse to recognize their interdependence and act as if they were independent. This will lead to the failure of the team.
  4. Processes:

    • Lack of processes makes decisions always a crisis situation. A case of decision-making being dominated by one person leads to poor commitment of the team
    • Communications are one way: top down and channeled through the leader. This is not the feature of a team. Negligible points are debated continuously. This leads to waste of time as well as energy.
    • Meetings are unproductive with the issues unresolved implies that poor planning has been done. Meetings cover trivia versus significant issues as the way to achieve goals is not clear.
    • In case, actions are taken without planning, the team will fail.
  5. Relationships:

    • Members are unwilling to be identified with the team. There is disguised conflict between the team members as well as severe personality conflicts. Relationships are competitive.

Most of the issues mentioned above can be resolved. All that is required is planning, processes and performance appraisal, which will be covered in detail in another article. Teams are vital for any organization. Their failure leads to the failure of the organization as a whole.



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