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Bad team environment - three stooges

Ever had that nagging feeling that your team isn’t doing as well as it could be?

Your team is missing things, attention to detail is lacking and there is a lack of enthusiasm for the work. A sense of urgency is a thing of the past.

If you’re seeing this in your team, you are probably frustrated. “Why don’t they care about what they are doing?”, you are thinking.

Before you give up, see whether you notice these signs of a bad team environment.

1. In a Bad Team Environment, Your Team Does Work You Don’t Know About

Your team is not necessarily being sneaky. They seem to be busy all the time. So what are they actually doing?

If you are a busy leader, you may not get the chance to check in with your team as much as you would like to. In fact, your busyness may just have them feeling like they shouldn’t bother you with small things.

Here is what you need to find out:

Is somebody else giving your team work to do without telling you?

This can be a real problem in many team environments. If you don’t understand the workload of your team, you can’t prioritise and help manage that workload.

Make sure you stay close to your team and have a good idea of the work that is coming in. You should also make sure you understand who is asking for the work.

Is the work more difficult than you first thought?

Sometimes the work just takes longer because once you look into it, it’s far more complicated that you originally thought. If your team agreed to a deadline and now they are struggling to meet it, it’s important that you’re aware of it.

Otherwise some people may burn themselves out trying to meet a deadline that is no longer reasonable. especially if they don’t feel comfortable telling you about the issues.

2. In a Bad Team Environment, There Are No Clear Priorities

Another sign of a bad team environment is a lack of clear priorities. Does all the work of your team need to be done right now? If it seems that way, you’ve got to learn how to prioritise.

When everything becomes urgent, in reality nothing is urgent. People who have several “highest priority” jobs realise that they can’t possibly do them all straight away. This will cause them to stop trying.

Ask yourself:

Assuming not everything can be completed right now, what would I want to be completed first?

Often, prioritising means pushing back on other people. They need to learn that even if they get angry about how they need everything done right now, it’s not going to happen.

Read more about Managing Upwards and Saying “No” in the Managing Upwards eBook.

You need to be the one that tells them, if you don’t want your team to be in a position where they feel they can’t win.

3. In a Bad Team Environment, Team Members Are Out For Themselves

One of the signs of a bad team environment is that the team members start to show they care more about themselves than the team.

Some examples of this behaviour include:

  • Making changes in the team without telling anybody, even though they know others would care about those changes
  • No longer offering to help team mates, when they used to lend a helping hand
  • Doing work that interests them personally, and forgetting about the rest.

In a bad team environment, people start to resent interference from others and detach from the team. They feel that if they don’t do this, they won’t get anything done and will get in trouble.

Don’t let your team develop a bad team environment. Watch out for the signs above and fix them by:

  • Keeping track of your team’s workload
  • Understanding who is giving your team work to do (it might not be just you)
  • Setting priorities, so people know what work is really important; and
  • Pushing back on people who seek to overload you and your team.

You probably think you know all about what’s going on with your team.

Keep a close watch to avoid creating a bad team environment.

What are your experiences of a bad team environment? Tell me your stories in the comments below!

Alternatively, if you would like to ask a question or need some help, you can send me a private message through my contact page.

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