Characteristics of Inffective Teams

  1. There is low unity of purpose.
    Little or no evidence that the group is widely committed to common objectives or that the objectives are meaningful to each member of the group.
  2. The group tends to avoid discussion of its own maintenance.
    The group has taken little time to explicitly discuss group process — how the group will function to achieve its objectives. The group does not have a clear, mutually agreed-upon approach: mechanics, norms, expectations, rules, etc. There is often much discussion after a meeting of what was wrong and why, but this is seldom discussed within the meeting itself.
  3. The group has low or ambiguous performance goals for itself.
    It has not defined concrete milestones against which it measures itself. The group has not given itself the stimulus of a continuous series of “small wins” along the way to larger goals.
  4. The atmosphere is likely to reflect either indifference
    (lots of side conversations, whispering, etc.), boredom, or tension. The group is not genuinely engaged.
  5. A few people tend to dominate.
    Sometimes their contributions are way off the point, but little is done by anyone in the group to keep the group clearly on track. People do not really listen to each other. Ideas are ignored or overriden. Conversations after group meetings reveal that people failed to express their ideas or feelings.
  6. Personal feelings are hidden.
    There is fear that these are too explosive if brought out.
  7. Disagreements are not generally dealt with effectively by the group.
    They may be suppressed by those who fear conflict, or there may be a “Tyranny of the Minority” in which an individual or sub-group is so aggressive that the majority accedes to their wishes in order to preserve the peace.
  8. Actions are often taken prematurely before the real issues are either examined or resolved.
    There is sometimes grousing after the meeting. A simple majority is considered sufficient, and the minority is expected to go along. The minority remains resentful and uncommitted.
  9. There are one or more group members who do not carry their fair share,
    failing to meet expectation of other group members. One or more members are disrespectful of the mechanics of the group: arriving late, coming unprepared, not completing agreed upon tasks on time, etc. Action steps are either unclear (who-what-when) or some group members are unwilling to accept and complete action steps at an equal level to other group members.
  10. Criticism may be present, but it is tension-producing or hostile.
    Some people avoid giving constructive criticism.
  11. There is a dominant figure in the group who seeks to gain and retain power in the group.

Sources: The Human Side of Enterprise, by Douglas MacGregor The Wisdom of Teams, by Kaztenbach and Smith