27.Causes of failure of team work A Lecture By Mr Allah Dad Khan Visiting Professor he University of Agriculture Peshawar Pakistan
Causes of Failure of Team
Work A Lecture By
Mr Allah Dad khan
1. The Team Lacks a Clear and
Compelling Vision and Purpose
The Houston Chronicle notes that without a clearly defined goal understood
by every team member, there will be a disparity in how each member
believes that goal should be reached. Tangible, specific goals should be
written out beforehand. Each team member should walk into a project with
the same understanding of what needs to be accomplished. If the endgame is
up for interpretation, it will likely lead to a loss of cohesion within a group.
This leads to reduced productivity, as the team will potentially wind up
spending more time trying to sort out the parameters of the task at hand than
actually accomplishing i
2. Lack of planning and poor planning
Lack of planning and lack of vision seemingly go hand in hand. Inc. points out
that many teams are expected to reach a goal without receiving the proper
prior training and support, making it a doomed venture from the get-go. A
successful business team will not only need training relevant to the task it is
trying to accomplish, but also may need training in cooperative and
collaborative strategies. In other words, you should never take for granted
that everyone has the natural ability to work well on a team. Business
simulations and peer evaluation are effective tools for bettering teamwork
within an academic or professional setting and identifying strong leaders.
Successful teams are briefed thoroughly beforehand and evaluated critically
after each success or failure.
3. Poor leadership at any level
The lack of strong leadership can quickly slow a team down. Positive leaders
can effectively delegate responsibility, approach problems with both a
macrocosmic and microcosmic perspective and can help define roles within
the group. Successful leaders will have a more comprehensive understanding
of the task at hand, be prepared to answer questions from other team
members and quickly be able to address fissures in the group’s cohesiveness.
While a good leader will likely be an expert in one or two distinct fields, he or
she will also be able to wear many hats and adapt to new challenges. Leaders
often have a deeper level of experience and have familiarity with many
different branches of an organization.
4. Team members do not hold each other
accountable for their work( Mutual
When team members, and the team leader, are not accountable to their
team, it means project delays, internal or external conflict, bad feelings, and
an eroding of any team spirit you might have gained from a strong vision or
purpose statement. The bottom line is that they end up avoiding and
distrusting each other, and avoiding the problems until they become too big
5. Team processes are ineffective or not
well established ( poor use of team)
1.Having a lack of measurable performance objectives that fit the current
environment. Every team must have performance objectives that can be easily
measured, and measured for the team, not just individual tasks.
2. Having unclear group norms and codes of behavior. The team must establish
how it works as a group, including meetings, decision making, problem solving,
and integrating new members. Then, it must decide how it will best handle the
inevitable changes that occur during their time together.
3. Having unclear roles and responsibilities. Everyone needs to know his or her
roles and responsibilities. Ideally, these also offer project and task-dependent
. 4. Recognizing and rewarding individual performance alone. Organizations often
set up team structures, but still reward and recognize people based on their
individual performance alone. This can create intense competition within a team,
and when things are changing quickly, can cause quite a bit of friction
No participation from members in setting goals. This takes away the
ownership from the team. It reduces the commitment of the team members.
Team is not clear about the goals. Communication is vital, whether to a team
or to an organization.
Goals are not effectively communicated. Everybody is doing his own thing
with no attention to team goals. Working in silos leads to duplication of work
as well as ruining the organization culture.
7. Environmental Influences:
The team members may be placed at different location making it difficult for
them to meet frequently. Hence a solution needs to be found to resolve this
issue. Communication is vital for any team to work well. Physical distances
can always be overcome with the use of technology.
The team is not given adequate resources in order to do its job. You cannot
expect an employee to work with his hands tied, can you?
Team efforts can be recognized. This is a key human trait. Appreciation is a
big morale booster for any employee.
A lack of recognition by the organization or its leaders about the existence of
a team can also lead a team to its failure.
8. Poor Roles Clarity
Responsibilities of the team members are poorly defined. This leads to
ambiguity as well as lack of commitment.
No clear leader identified. Leadership is vital to any team. A good leader
outlines the strategy and charts the path to reach the goal.
There is buck-passing of responsibility, which shows lack of commitment.
Members indulge in power plays for authority and control. This is a problem of
attitudes which needs to be managed accordingly by the leader and the
organization. Members refuse to recognize their interdependence and act as
if they were independent. This will lead to the failure of the team
9. Processes ( ineffective interaction and
unproductive team meeting)
Lack of processes makes decisions always a crisis situation. A case of decision-
making being dominated by one person leads to poor commitment of the
Communications are one way: top down and channeled through the leader.
This is not the feature of a team. Negligible points are debated continuously.
This leads to waste of time as well as energy.
Meetings are unproductive with the issues unresolved implies that poor
planning has been done. Meetings cover trivia versus significant issues as the
way to achieve goals is not clear.
In case, actions are taken without planning, the team will fail.
Members are unwilling to be identified with the team. There is disguised
conflict between the team members as well as severe personality conflicts.
Relationships are competitive.
11. Lack of training (Insufficient
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
12.Poor Listening Skills
Those who work together on a team have to develop an informal protocol of
respect for each others views. This means individuals have to
actively listen and not switch off when someone else is talking. Every
member on the team warrants attention and their views require due
consideration. When good listening skills are absent, the danger of missing
a good idea goes up dramatically. Moreover, there are many who cannot put
across their ideas well, they are not forceful enough. If others on the team
are not actively listening, then good ideas can be lost.
13. Egos or Just Plain Pigheadedness!
Ego hassles can create conflicts and power struggles within a team. It’s a kind of
pigheadedness usually borne out of personal insecurities. A stubborn attitude of
clinging to ones own views creeps in. This attitude implies - ‘My idea is the best-
your idea is not good enough’. It then becomes a fight for supremacy, a battle of
'right' verses 'wrong'. This can lead confused objectives and goals through team
members trying to push their ideas and no longer assessing what’s best for the task
at hand. When the group effort degenerates into pandering the egos of individual
team players or fighting each other’s egos, the team fails to deliver on the task.
When egos are at play, individuals are unable to focus on the joint responsibility
that they have as a team. Vince Lombardi, one of the most successful football
coaches of all time once said:
"Individual commitment to a group effort - that's what makes a team work, a
company work, a society work, a civilization work."
14.Poor Time Management and poor
A team should plan its goals and activities whilst keeping time constraints and
deadlines in mind, otherwise their efficiency level in managing and implementing
a task can suffer. Adequate time has to be allocated for key team activities such as
brain storming, strategizing, decision making, and finally implementation. At
times teams spend too much time in the strategizing and planning stages and
neglect to allocate enough time to implement the solution. Let’s look at a
After many weeks of deliberation, a marketing team came up with a brilliant
promotional idea for the launch of a new product. The idea was terrific and
management praised the team for its innovative thinking. When the time came to
implement it, the team miscalculated the number of hours it would take for the
shipments to reach the stores. Customers came into stores in droves because of
the high intensity advertising but owing to the delay, many left without buying,
leading to significant business loses.
15. Lack of trust between team members
If there is a lack of trust between team members, it can result in a team that
is not united in its approach. This can be shown through poor co-ordination,
poor co-operation and minimal sharing of knowledge and resources. It can be
developed not only during working activities but also during team members
informal interactions with each other.
The concept of a team is basically of a group that handles a task or any
activity together. While the team may present a front that seems unified to
the untrained eye, in reality distrust creates deep seated problems.
One example of distrust is a lack of confidence in your colleagues abilities or
quality of work. Poor performance of a team member on assigned tasks can
raise questions on the competence of that team member within the team
itself. These problems manifest in misjudgements that arise on tasks assigned
due to the prejudice of the group against one team member.
16. Lack of management support
There is no proper support and backup, no funding, availability of technology
and equipment. Some key success factors of winning teams that emerged
from the study include:
proper team member introduction into the team;
an emphasis on bonding, group cohesion and team spirit;
knowing and understanding what customers expect;
open and honest dialogue between team members; and
strong leadership within the team.
17. Culture or ethical misalignment
– the culture of the company must prize competence, pro-activeness, and
professionalism. If it doesn’t, the team members may not have the motivation
to do their best. In essence, everyone involved must be concerned about the
success of their undertaking
18. Lack of measurement and correction
IT project failure is often a perpetual cycle of repeating the same mistakes
over and over. Project debriefs are designed to identify “lessons learned” and
help to improve the process for future application. But in many cases, these
do little more than pay lip service to what went wrong, and end up becoming
more of a “blame game” than a useful and insightful exercise to drive
19.Lack of skills and proven approach to
project management and risk management.
Is there a skilled and experienced project team with clearly defined roles
and responsibilities? If not, is there access to expertise, which can benefit
those fulfilling the requisite roles?
Are the major risks identified, weighted, and treated by the SRO, the
Director, and Project Manager, and/or project team?
Has sufficient resourcing, financial and otherwise, been allocated to the
project, including an allowance for risk?
Do we have adequate approaches for estimating, monitoring, and
controlling the total expenditure on projects?
20. Inadequate knowledge can include:
− Lacking skills and a proven approach to project management.
− Failing to price your product or service correctly.
− Not addressing potential risks due to inexperience.
− Not estimating, monitoring, or controlling expenditures.
− Not putting a process in place for measuring and tracking results.
− Having an incomplete or vague project work plan.
− Using inadequate control systems
21.LACK OF PERSISTENCE
. Most of us are good “starters” but poor “finishers” of everything we begin.
Moreover, people are prone to give up at the first signs of defeat. There is no
substitute for PERSISTENCE. The person who makes PERSISTENCE his watch-
word, discovers that “Old Man Failure” finally becomes tired, and makes his
departure. Failure cannot cope with PERSISTENCE
22.LACK OF ENTHUSIASM
. Without enthusiasm one cannot be convincing. Moreover, enthusiasm is
contagious, and the person who has it, under control, is generally welcome in
any group of people.
The person with a “closed” mind on any subject seldom gets ahead.
Intolerance means that one has stopped acquiring knowledge. The most
damaging forms of intolerance are those connected with religious, racial, and
political differences of opinion.
There is no substitute for honesty. One may be temporarily dishonest by force
of circumstances over which one has no control, without permanent damage.
But, there is NO HOPE for the person who is dishonest by choice. Sooner or
later, his deeds will catch up with him, and he will pay by loss of reputation,
and perhaps even loss of liberty.
25.LACK OF SELF-DISCIPLINE
. Discipline comes through self-control. This means that one must control all
negative qualities. Before you can control conditions, you must first control
yourself. Self-mastery is the hardest job you will ever tackle. If you do not
conquer self, you will be conquered by self. You may see at one and the same
time both your best friend and your greatest enemy, by stepping in front of a
26.GUESSING INSTEAD OF THINKING.
Most people are too indifferent or lazy to acquire FACTS with which to THINK
ACCURATELY. They prefer to act on “opinions” created by guesswork or snap-