Why Teams Fail: 10 Causes and Cures

Teams fail for any number of reasons, including poor planning, unclear goals, or a lack of training. Research by The Ken Blanchard Companies has identified the top 10 reasons for a team failing to reach its potential. See if any of these sound familiar:

  •  Lack of a sufficient charter
  •  Unsure of what requires team effort
  •  Lack of mutual accountability
  •  Lack of resources
  •  Lack of effective and/or shared leadership
  •  Lack of planning
  •  Lack of management support
  •  Inability to deal with conflict
  •  Lack of focus on creativity and excellence
  •  Lack of training

How do you avoid these pitfalls? Make sure that your next team identifies and monitors the group’s performance in seven key areas. To help you remember the seven characteristics of a high performing team, you can use the acronym PERFORM.

Purpose and values. Does the new team have a compelling vision, strong sense of purpose, and a common set of values?

Empowerment. Does the team have the authority to act and make decisions? Have clear boundaries been set?

Relationships and communication. Do team members feel they can take risks and share their thoughts, opinions, and feelings without fear?

Flexibility. Are team members adaptable to changing conditions—including both the outside environment and within the team itself?

Optimal productivity. Is there a commitment to high standards and quality? Do team members hold each other accountable and strive for continual improvement?

Recognition and appreciation. Do team members give and receive positive feedback and recognition that reinforces behavior, builds esteem, and enhances a feeling of value and accomplishment?

Morale. Are team members enthusiastic about their work, proud of their results, and feel pride in belonging to the team?

The Journey to High Performance

All teams are unique and complex living systems. High performance is a journey—a predictable progression from a collection of individuals to team members who begin to think in terms of “we” rather than “you” and “me.” Identify and monitor these seven characteristics to get the most out of your next team.

8 thoughts on “Why Teams Fail: 10 Causes and Cures

  1. Dave,
    I like your post – especially the planning and charter bullets. Too often teams get thrown together without taking those few precious moments at the beginning to talk about what they are doing.

    My one add that I would offer you to consider is a Lack of shared passion. When teams come together to tackle something that is going to be challenging (and ultimately very hard) it will take a common passion for the journey. This is something I run into in startups(where it often exists) and in the not for profit world. Thoughts?

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  3. I enjoyed your writeup about the characteristics of a high performing team. I think that Trust is essential among team members before they can begin the 7 key areas. Trust take time to develop and one way to speed that up is through training in personality type.

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  5. David dear, thank you so much for this insightful writeup. I would like to add more thnigs to this work. I really need your permision to use you work to add more things. Plesae contact me via email for more talks.Thank you.

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