A process of reasoning or decision making by a group, especially one characterized by uncritical acceptance of or conformity to a perceived majority view.
The collaborative nature of teams means they are subject to pitfalls that individuals working alone do not face. Team members may not always work well together, and focusing the efforts of individuals on shared goals presents challenges to completing tasks as efficiently and effectively as possible. The following pitfalls can lead to team dysfunction and failure to achieve important organizational objectives.
Individuals Shirking Their Duties
Since team members share responsibility for outcomes, some individuals may need to do additional work to make up for those not contributing their share of effort. This can breed resentment and foster other negative feelings that can make the team less effective. One cause of this is the failure of the team to establish clear norms of accountability for individual contributions to the group effort.
Sometimes an individual or small number of team members can come to dominate the rest of the group. This could be due to strong personalities, greater abilities, or differences in status among members. When individuals either do not feel listened to or believe their ideas are not welcome, they may reduce their efforts.
Lack of Trust
Effective collaboration requires team members to have confidence that everyone shares a set of goals. When that belief is missing, some individuals may not feel comfortable sharing their ideas with the group. Lack of trust can also lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings, which can undermine the group's efforts.
Conflicts Hamper Progress
While conflicts are a common aspect of working together and can even be beneficial to a team, they can also negatively affect team performance. For instance, conflict can delay progress on tasks or create other inefficiencies in getting work done.
Lack of Teaming Skills
When team members do not have the collaboration skills needed to work well with others, the overall ability of the team to function can be limited. As a result, conflicts may be more likely to arise and more difficult to resolve.
Missing Task Skills
A team that does not have the expertise and knowledge needed to complete all its tasks and activities will have trouble achieving its goals. Poor team composition can lead to delays, higher costs, and increased risk.
Stuck in Formation
Sometimes the group cannot move from defining goals and outlining tasks to executing its work plan. This may be due to poor specification of roles, tasks, and priorities.
Too Many Members
The size of the team can sometimes affect its ability to function effectively. Coordination and communication are more complex in a larger team than in a smaller one. This complexity can mean that decisions must take into account greater amounts of information, meetings are more challenging to schedule, and tasks can take longer to complete.
Outcomes can suffer if team members value conflict avoidance and consensus over making the best decisions. People can feel uncomfortable challenging the group's direction or otherwise speaking up for fear of breaking a team norm. This phenomenon is known as "groupthink." Groupthink can limit creativity, lead to poor choices, or result in mistakes that might otherwise have been avoidable.
While teams offer many benefits, their effectiveness rests on how well members can avoid common pitfalls or minimize their negative consequences when they occur.