A broken or dysfunctional team may be caused by a variety of factors; however, the number one cause is usually poor management. In addition to poor management or leadership, broken teams usually occur as a result of a cumulation of problems. As a manager or leader within your organization, it’s your job to nip any potential issues in the bud so they don’t snowball and impact your team.
Signs of a broken team vary, but common signs include employees who are checked out, unmotivated, or unwilling to collaborate; projects falling through the cracks or failing to be completed; and a high employee turnover. While a broken team can be detrimental to your organization, it’s important to remember that there are steps you can take to turn things around.
Characteristics of a broken team
One of the tell-tale signs of a broken team is incomplete projects. If you’re used to your teammates working cohesively and collaborating to reach common goals or objectives, you may worry when you begin to notice tasks falling through the cracks. There could be a number of reasons your team is failing to complete projects, but they can all be chalked up to a broken team.
Fix a broken team by giving feedback
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Having a team of eager, energetic employees is a dream, but unfortunately, you may be experiencing the direct opposite. If you notice that your teammates are disengaging, feeling lethargic, skipping out on meetings, signing out early, or failing to participate in meetings, you may have a broken team.
While it may be a more complex fix that involves self-reflection, you may be able to initially address your distracted employees or teammates by simply having a conversation. If you’ve taken the time and put in the work required to mend your broken team and you still aren’t yielding results, you may want to consider hosting one-on-one meetings and fostering an environment where you and the employees in question can have open and honest conversations.
3Low retention rate
If you can’t hold on to your employees, it may be because they don’t feel appreciated or fulfilled. This may be because others in their position make more money, because they feel as though they don’t have the opportunity or room to grow, or simply because they feel undervalued by management or their peers. As a result, they leave and find better opportunities elsewhere.
Not only does a low retention rate pose a monetary threat to your organization, but it can also be detrimental to the well-being of your team. If teammates continue to quit or move on to bigger and better opportunities, the remaining employees will start to lose morale and your company culture will suffer. Not only will they lose morale and begin to question their roles, but they may also end up with a larger workload which could lead to exhaustion or burnout.
4Lack of team trust
Teammates not trusting each other is a major red flag and another sign of a broken team. It can be nearly impossible for a team that doesn’t trust each other to thrive and prosper. A lack of trust reduces transparency and communication, and reduced transparency and communication leads to a low level of innovation and a lack of agility and responsiveness to changing conditions. Teammates who don’t trust each other fail to collaborate and work cohesively, meaning the likelihood of tasks being completed on time—and well—is slim to none.
5Lack of accountability
Noticing that your teammates aren’t accountable is a tell-tale sign that your team is broken. A solid team is one in which everyone takes accountability. Your teammates or employees should be accountable for the work they produce and the projects on which they collaborate, and you should be responsible for empowering them and making sure they have everything they need to succeed. Failing to be accountable means you’re making the conscious decision not to do something you know you should be doing. When someone lacks accountability repeatedly, this practice may have serious consequences.
How to fix a broken team
- Listen to what your team members have to say
- Identify what’s causing the problems
- Problem solve as a team
- Build trust with team-building activities
- Create an action plan to resolve the problems
- Host follow-up meetings to see what has changed
- Ask for feedback regularly to identify future problems
1Listen to what your team members have to say
As a manager or leader within your organization, there’s a chance that you may be responsible for your broken team, so you’re largely responsible for fixing it. While it may not be an easy fix, it will most definitely pay off in the long run. One of the first things you can do is listen to your teammates and learn what they have to say.
Chances are if your team is broken, you haven’t taken the time to gather feedback. Seeking feedback is a quick and easy way to identify problems and learn how you can improve as a leader. If you take the time to listen to your team, you’ll be able to uncover any issues that may be plaguing them while additionally taking steps to improve—especially if you practice active listening.
2Identify what’s causing the problems
If you don’t get to the root of the problems, you won’t be able to fix them. While this may be a lengthy process, it’s also the only way to get to the bottom of what’s causing your broken team. The quickest way to mend your broken team is forming a deep understanding of what may be plaguing your team. Identifying what’s causing the problems is the first step to fixing them.
3Problem solve as a team
As a manager or leader, you may feel as though you need to take on everything on your own when in reality, collaborating with your team to problem solve is much more efficient. Problem-solving meetings are used by teams to study an issue and its causes, as well as to build an action plan to fix the problem. Collaborating with your team not only demonstrates trust and transparency, but it also offers a unique opportunity to bond and get to the root of any issues together. Check out the below problem-solving meeting agenda template to ensure your next problem-solving meeting leads to positive change:
4Build trust with team-building activities
Team-building activities can be a great way to rebuild trust while mending broken relationships and creating unbreakable bonds. Effective team-building activities strengthen collaboration and help to avoid internal competition. Team-building activities also help foster a productive work culture by building rapport between teammates and encouraging team members to embrace each other’s core strengths and weaknesses.
5Create an action plan to resolve the problems
Identifying the problems that are causing your broken team is one thing, but creating an action plan to solve them is another. Without a thorough action plan, you may catch yourself in a vicious cycle. An action plan will not only help you hold yourself accountable as a leader, but it will also help your teammates understand what has to change and the steps that need to be taken to lead to positive change.
6Host follow-up meetings to see what has changed
When fixing a broken team, being diligent in your approach is extremely important. Hosting follow-up meetings will ensure you have your thumb on the pulse. If any issues arise, you’ll be able to nip them in the bud before they fester and become full-blown conflicts. Hosting follow-up meetings will also make it possible for you to track progress and gauge success. This would be a great opportunity to identify whether your action plan has helped spark positive change.
7Ask for feedback regularly to identify future problems
Teams often become broken when managers or those in power fail to seek feedback and don’t take the time to listen to their teammates. To avoid this problem, you’ll want to make sure to seek feedback regularly. Seeking feedback regularly will allow you to make iterations to your management style or approach. You’ll also be able to identify future problems so you can work towards solutions.
Fellow’s feedback feature makes it possible for you to gather feedback regularly, which helps foster product conflict. If you’re able to identify your flaws and the conflicts amongst your team members, you’ll be able to get ahead of them and make improvements before they lead to a broken team.
Create a happy, collaborative team today
While it may seem like there’s no end in sight, mending your broken team is worth the wait. Reinforcing positive behavior, practicing habits that cultivate a positive environment, and hosting conversations that lead to an open line of communication are all small steps you can take to eradicate unhappiness and repair relationships between your coworkers.