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The High (and Often Hidden) Costs of Project Team Dysfunction

The dream team: a collection of people who all get along and perform beyond any manager’s wildest dreams. This elusive dream is typically not the norm, and unfortunately most managers will have to learn how to deal with a team laden with issues. In an article for TechRepublic, Moira Alexander delves into this issue of dysfunctional teams and their cost.

Everyone Loses

To begin with, how do teams become dysfunctional? According to Patrick Lencioni, the founder of The Table Group, dysfunction occurs as a result of teams being “made up of human beings with varied interests and frailties. When you put them together and leave them to their own devices, even the most well-intentioned people will usually deviate toward dysfunctional, unproductive behavior.” What is even more of an issue is that too often managers do not know how to handle these ill-performing teams.

When there is dysfunction at the senior level of the business, the results are often dire. These types of team problems end up hurting the company’s financial state in myriad ways. Leaders who do not allocate the appropriate time for building business relationships and spend too much time on conflicts cause insurmountable issues. In fact, companies that have senior leaders who do not influence change well as a result of underdeveloped relationships experience a 50-70 percent failure rate on transformational projects.

Dysfunctional teams lead to both financial and opportunity losses. Firstly, there is the idea of one bad apple poisoning the entire bushel. When one member is not a team player, this can lead to a lack of trust and a quick whirlwind of dysfunction. Another issue is when, as a result of disengagement with the team sapping motivation, everyone starts contributing the bare minimum effort and nothing more. Along those same lines, people might start looking out for themselves only, rejecting accountability and deflecting blame wherever possible.

Of course, in such a situation, productivity will take a direct hit:

A productivity pipeline blockage ultimately occurs if one or more project team member suffers from a disconnect from other team members, executives, stakeholders, or the project manager. Their interest, dedication, and contributions to the project start to lesson as a result. Project workflows are undesirably impacted due to this slowdown in productivity, creating a bottleneck which can have further damaging effects on project timelines and scope in general.

An increase in errors, substantial amounts of wasted time, and a great increase in potential project failure round out the list of ways that unchecked team dysfunction can harm a business. Can you really take a risk like this?

You can read the original article here:

About Danielle Koehler

Danielle is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. She has degrees in English and human resource management from Shippensburg University.

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