Team Incompatibility

Company management often put teams together to achieve a particular business objective. The performance of the team depends on the personality and interaction of the team members and on the expertise and experience of each individual. It is much like casting actors for a play, each actor brings a certain quality and dimension and unless the casting is done with care, the director will find the cast incompatible with the script. The same is true in teams. Unless the team is selected with care, the output from the team is unlikely to meet the company’s expectations. Quite often companies wonder why their teams are ineffective and not delivering brilliant new ideas and concepts, which can more often than not be put down to team incompatibility.

The very concept of a team is based on the premise that people with varying backgrounds, expertise and skills can come together and contribute their learning to evolve superior solutions to a problem. The idea is that the team can accomplish a lot more than each of these individuals can on their own because of the collective expertise of all the team members. This idea will work in reality but only if the team has the right mix of individuals to start with. The person creating the team has to pick individuals who match the task and also try and bring in a mix of professionals with varying experiences and backgrounds that will complement each other. The right team mix should take into account factors such as experience and expertise, personality traits, and thinking patterns. The key considerations are usually:

  • Mix of Experience and Expertise – Cross-functional, different skills within the same function, experience across different industries and business segments
  • Mix of Personality Traits and Temperaments – Decisiveness, open to change, motivated and enthusiastic go-getters, cautious types, risk-takers, gregarious, extravert Vs introvert, etc.
  • Mix of Thinking Patterns and Approaches – Creativity, pragmatism, logic, analytical, strategic thinker


When Can Team Incompatability Occur?

Given below are a few situations that portray why certain types of team formations can prove to be in-effective:

  1. If the team has too many individuals of the ‘cautious’ type, then there may be too little risk taking and chances of getting unconventional solutions may be minimal.
  2. If the team does not have enough strategic thinkers, then the business angle and the strategic competitive angle may be missing in the solution reached by the team. If there aren’t any analytical thinkers on the team then the team may be unable to analyse and fully comprehend the problem.
  3. If the team does not have the right mix of cross-functional experience, then it will lack input in one or more critical area of expertise.
  4. For instance, a car manufacturer who puts together a task force to develop a new car model may need the right mix of engineers, market research professionals and design experts on the team. The new car has to evolve from a combination of technical know-how, consumer insights and contemporary design elements.
  5. If the team does not have adequate experience in terms of years spent in the business, then they will be unable to see the big picture and may come up with a lot of half baked impractical solutions.
  6. If the team mix is too similar in its approach, then creativity will be minimal. There will be a lack of range in the ideas or solutions given.

While cross functional expertise is easy to pick, it is personality types, behaviour patterns and work approaches that need careful consideration in team selection. There are a range of personality tools that can be used to get the right mix in a team:

    • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, MBTI. This describes 16 distinctive personality types and it is a widely used framework for identifying the right mix of people for a team.
    • Belbin Team Roles.This considers 8 different team roles based on patterns of behaviour in team relationships.
    • Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI). This is considered the world’s leading thinking styles assessment tool and can help companies build high performance teams.


Incompatibility is one of the key reasons why teams fail. An ineffective team may at times be nothing more than just a consequence of the wrong combination of people.

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