5 common reasons teams fail

3 minute read

Effective teams can be hard to bring together. Business managers need to carefully consider the skills and characteristics so they complement one another and create a high functioning team - something that is much easier said than done in this hectic age of recruiting and retaining. Yet, effective teams do exist. And a big part of creating them is avoiding hidden pitfalls. 

In this blog, we’ll look at five common obstacles for teams, and how you can sidestep them to build successful, lasting teams of the right people.

5 common reasons teams fail

1. A lack of trust and opportunities to build it

One of the biggest elements of cohesion is trust. Team members should naturally feel they can rely on each other to do their jobs well, and to do them with the greater good at heart.

But this trust is often missing, causing team members not to fully invest themselves. This can usually be traced back to a lack of trust-building occasions in the first place.

To head off this problem, teams need to spend a good amount of time together from the moment they are formed. Whether this consists of social outings, shared workday breaks or group travel, communal experiences will help create the strong, organic sense of trust that makes people stick together.


2. Rewards that appeal to individuals rather than the team, detracting from team spirit

Incentives that enhance a person’s standing above and beyond their peers can cause teams to splinter.

This problem can be seen, for example, in sales groups where each person sees the highest close rate as the prize, even at the cost of snatching good opportunities away from colleagues. Attitudes like this destroy the very foundations of camaraderie and collective goodwill that make for excellent teams.

Individuals shouldn’t be rewarded in a way that breaks down team spirit. Instead, the prize should be everyone’s progress.


3. Bad management and unequipped leadership

Incompetent managers cause a lot of stress for their employees — even to the point of affecting their health — and bring a series of destructive traits to the table, from bad communication skills to limited self-awareness.

Given the stress they inject into the workplace, bad managers often form teams that fail to meet goals and easily fall apart. If nothing else, this is a cautionary tale about the extreme importance of good leaders, especially when team performance has become a priority for the organisation.


4. A misunderstanding of what a ‘team’ is and should be

The success or failure of a team can hinge on how leaders define ‘teams’ in the first place.

A team is a specialised gathering of workers united under a common focused goal, whereas a work group might simply come together to tackle a straightforward task or contribute some ideas. But managers often mistake groups for teams and vice versa, without having a clear-eyed view of the basic differences.

As a result, teams can lack real direction. It’s essential for managers to understand the meaning of teams, and accordingly, work to develop an overarching purpose for their teams.


5. Poor recruitment strategies and tactics.

A team is greater than the sum of its parts — namely, the unique individuals involved. Getting personnel selection right is key when building a winning team.

Of course, choosing the right people is a challenge. Personality traits, job skills and workplace culture fit all play an important part of the equation, but it’s easy to think you’re getting one aspect of recruitment right while having glaring blind spots in your selection and evaluation methods.

The result? The wrong people being put together into teams that don’t work.

Even if your budding team seems full of qualified talent on the surface, the underlying personality mix always creates an unseen dynamic, leading to great success, dismal failure, or anything in between.

If you're wondering whether building successful, high-performing teams is possible, the answer is yes. There is a way forward - talk to Winsborough today.