60% of Work Teams Fail—Top 10 Reasons Why

About 60 percent of the time, work teams fail to accomplish their goals, according to Dr. Eunice Parisi-Carew, a Founding Associate at The Ken Blanchard Companies. To make matters worse, the experience will create lingering hard feelings among team members,

In a new article for Human Resource Executive Online, Parisi-Carew identifies the top ten reasons why this occurs. See if any of these common missteps are holding back the teams in your organization.

  1. Lack of planning. Teams are often formed with little planning or forethought. When people come together on a team, they have questions that must be addressed: Why are we together? What are the goals? What role will each of us play? What is expected of me?
  2. Lack of support for a team culture. This shows up in various ways, all of which are damaging. For example, management “empowers” the team, but still demands that everything be cleared through senior leadership, or management refuses to decrease other responsibilities for people participating on the team.
  3. Lack of resources. An inadequate budget, training or time to do the job right.
  4. Lack of clarity. No agreement on how team members are expected to behave toward one another.
  5. Lack of mutual accountability. This means holding people accountable to agreements. Not confronting a broken agreement can lead to poor results, lack of commitment and lack of trust.
  6. Lack of effective or shared leadership. A high-performing team is one in which leadership is shared, and each and every member is responsible for team functioning.
  7. Lack of focus on creativity and excellence. This lack of focus negatively impacts the quality of team interaction and the quality of the final product.
  8. Inability to deal with conflict. Poor training or strategies for dealing with conflict—especially conflict that is caused by personal, political, or power issues and agendas.
  9. Lack of training. This applies not only to the leader but to all members. For example, just knowing that teams go through predictable stages—including conflict—can depersonalize and diffuse some of the natural tensions that are felt in a group.
  10. Poor use of teams. Not all organizational challenges require a team; some are better handled by individuals. A team is appropriate when multiple skills and perspectives are needed to accomplish the goal.

To ensure success with your next team, Parisi-Carew recommends three key strategies to have in place.

Set a Solid Foundation—Many teams are brought together with no more thought than a general idea of “we need a team to do this.” As a result, these teams get formed sloppily with no clear purpose or goal.

Deal with Differences—Provide training and guidance for effectively dealing with differences. This includes reminding the team that differences are inevitable when passionate people work together. It’s important that teams view friction and disagreement as a healthy stage of team development instead of something to avoid.

Approach Team Leadership from a Servant Leader Mind-set—A team is a living, breathing entity. A team leader needs to see himself or herself as a servant and a guide for the group, not as the hub or ultimate decision maker. You will never have a truly high-performing team unless leadership is shared, so that everyone on the team, and the team as a whole, develops

To read more about Parisi-Carew’s advice for team success, be sure to check out the complete article, Why Teams Fail—and What to Do About It at Human Resource Executive Online.

11 thoughts on “60% of Work Teams Fail—Top 10 Reasons Why

  1. Good article. I strongly believe there is another reason why teams fail. It has to do with generational diversity. The Boomer generation are not the best on teams. They (generally speaking), are still concerned with “who’s doing the most work? who’s getting the most credit?” Millennials, on the other hand, are generally much better on teams, with little concern about who is credited with what. Gen-exers are the relationship brokers in many cases.
    Talking about these differences will go a long way in helping teams succeed.

  2. Having worked on teams I see many areas mentioned that bring clarity as to why the team was dsyfunctional. Every leader should take advantage of the training offered on team development and building high performing teams. Knowing how to turn conflict into a positive is tremendous and does not come easily without the skills needed to recognize it.

    Thank you Dr. Parisi-Carew for sharing your knowledge!

    Tammy Williams

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