The Right Solution For An Ineffective Team

When there are obvious problems within a team, the output from the team naturally diminishes. Your team is a group of professionals put together because their expertise and experience were found to be suitable for a particular business task. If they are not delivering the right output and matching the performance benchmarks that are expected of them, then it calls for a serious analysis of problem areas to find the appropriate solution.

Micromanagement of Team Ineffectiveness Issues


There are four major steps to finding a solution that helps to transform an ineffective team into a success:

  • Finding the facts.
  • Detecting and identifying the problem .
  • Evaluation of the behaviours or team issues associated with the problem.
  • Looking for the right solution to the problem.

Finding The Facts

Micromanagement involves paying close attention to the finer details that are responsible for the team’s ineffectiveness. It involves:

  • Seeking feedback from those who have had the opportunity to interact with the team.
  • Talking to people who interact with the team on a regular basis
  • Talking to those who have a compliant about the team, whether internal or external.
  • Talking to the team members individually and talking to them as a group.

These steps are a fact finding mission that has to be undertaken either by a team leader, manager or HR person who takes on the responsibility of setting things right. The problems that are highlighted during this process can be quite an eye opener. The common problems that usually become apparent are:

  • The team never delivers on time.


  • They don’t seem to understand the task.


  • The team members constantly interrupt each other and vie for attention.


  • There is a lot of chaos.


  • There are no good ideas coming out of the team.


  • They don’t seem to know their facts.


  • There is no confidence in the teams ability to deliver.


Detecting and Identifying the Problem

You now have all your feedback. You’ve listened to what the relevant people have to say about this team, so where does the problem lie? This is the stage where you use your judgment to pinpoint the nature of the problem. The following seven patterns are a broad guideline to help in isolating the problem:

Seven Patterns of Team Ineffectiveness

  1. Errant Team
  2. Listless Teams
  3. Incompetant Teams
  4. Hotchpotch Teams
  5. Confused Teams
  6. Inefficient Teams
  7. UnproductiveTeams

Each team, situation, circumstance or problem is different and it is of course presumptuous to think that all teams will fit the seven ineffectiveness moulds given here. Going by past precedents in the corporate environment and documented evidence of researchers, it is more than likely that most failing teams could fall somewhere within these seven patterns. At times the problems could be a combination of two or more patterns and at times it could be just one of these. The characteristics and issues that define each pattern will be explained later on.

Evaluation of the Behaviours or Team Issues Associated with the Problem

The detection of problems has to logically lead to assessment of the core issues or the specifics of the problem in order to find the right solution. When you detect the problem, what will also come to light are certain behaviours and approaches that are the real underlying reasons for the issue. The problem itself takes root because of the manner in which the team behaves and carries out its tasks.

Looking for the Right Solution to the Problem

What can be done to help this team overcome its problems? What are the various approaches that can be applied to correct the behavioural issues or work approach issues that plague the team? The goal is to steer the team clear of the problems and get them to perform and execute their tasks in line with the vision and business objectives of the organisation.
Given next is a Problem-Solution Grid that gives the reader an overview of the seven patterns of ineffectiveness by outlining the core issues associated with each problem and the corresponding solution that is most likely to deliver results. These solutions offer an approach or a cure that is certainly worth considering:

Problem-Solution Grid

Detection of the Problem: Type of Ineffectiveness

Core Issues: Behaviours or Team Issues Associated with that Problem

Possible Cure: The Action Path to Solve the Team Crisis

1.Errant Team Egos, rivalry, mistrust unhealthy competition, interpersonal conflicts a) Tough talking measures b) Build trust using informal team building games
2. Listless Team Type a) Low motivation, no enthusiasm and drive, the task does not adequately challenge the mind Type b) Poor innovative thinking ability a) Intensify the challenge and infuse fresh enthusiasm, or b) Use workshops and programs that promote out-of-the-box thinking


3. Incompetent Team Knowledge gaps, inadequate expertise, poorly thought out proposals Develop the skills necessary for the job and rectify knowledge gaps with training
4. Hotchpotch Team Wrong mix of people – the work approaches, thinking patterns, and personality types don’t jell for the task Review the team profile and pay closer attention to the output required vis-à-vis the team profile
5. Confused Team Poor role clarity, poor understanding of business goals a) Discussion and restating of roles and goals b) Setting performance benchmarks in consultation with each team member c) Role play exercises
6. Inefficient Team Disorganized, poor time management, poor management of resources, no co-ordination and cooperation a) Infuse accountability for resource allocation and utilization, b) Workshops on time management, c) Team building programs/games to bring about synchronization in teamwork, d) Guidelines for organising work flow
7. Unproductive Team Poorly conducted meetings, poor understanding of business interaction, poor decision making capacity Workshops and interactive exercises that provide scope to learn effective interaction; and how to go about effective discussions and group decision making

The suggested solutions are explained below in greater detail:

Errant Team: This type of team has to be treated the way a football coach would talk to an underperforming team. They need a firm hand. Tough talking could be the answer. Portray how the business suffers as a consequence of poor team cohesion. You can build a case for the organisation being much bigger than the individual. The message should be, ‘Guys, you need to get your act together, you are a disaster. You have to stop unnecessary bickering and focus on the task’. To rectify mistrust, the solution could be informal team building games where the team members are induced to let their guard down and start working together.

Listless Team: This kind of team probably lacks the right challenge in their work and they feel that their talents are not fully utilised in their current team roles. The solution may lie in firing up their interest with more challenging assignments. However, in a situation where there is an adequate challenge but the team is unable to think creatively, this type of team needs programs that will help them think out-of-the-box. They need guidance on viewing problems differently rather than conventionally. They need exposure to case studies and examples where taking an off beat path yielded major improvements in business performance.

Incompetent Team: When the problem has been identified as ‘knowledge gaps’, the HR department of an organisation has to step in to create suitable programs for the team. They have to involve experts within the organisation in conducting classroom style training modules. The team leader has to pay close attention to on-the-job training for the team. The team should also be given the opportunity to attend industry seminars so that they build their knowledge through the experiences and learning of other industry professionals.

Hotchpotch Team: The team-mix may have to be reassessed and tools such as HBDI, MBTI or Belbin Roles can be used by the organisation to see if they can turn around the team by inducting a more appropriate profile of people into it.

Confused Team: This is probably one of the easiest to solve because all it takes is a frank discussion with the team. The team leader has to ensure that everyone is crystal clear on the mission and common objectives of the team and their individual roles and responsibilities. Written role descriptions and goal definitions are also useful since they provide a ready reference point whenever there is a doubt. In addition, role play sessions can be engineered to drive home the point. Performance benchmarks are also advised to induce the team to stay on track.

Inefficient Team: Mishandling is the hallmark of such a team. It could be cost overruns, time overruns and in general, wastage of resources. One way to set it right is by fixing accountability. Good team building programs are necessary to facilitate better cohesion, coordination and co-operation. And, time-management workshops can help the team learn techniques in using time more efficiently.

Unproductive team: This is a problem faced by a team when they don’t use the team process well. Their decision making methods are faulty, so their strategies and recommendations are weak. They need a slight nudge in the right direction through workshops in areas such as group interaction, evaluation of alternatives, healthy debate, resolving disagreements, and in arriving at a group consensus.

1. Identifying Symptoms of Team Ineffectiveness
2. Diagnosing Team Failure

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *