When Teams Fail

What happens when teamwork goes bad? This is something we’ve all heard about: the team just can’t pull it off. Maybe it’s wrong timing, maybe it’s the team, maybe it’s the goal or maybe it’s the leadership. There are lots of reasons why a team doesn’t succeed and sometimes there isn’t an answer as to why they did. I don’t wait around for it but I do believe that luck, good fortune, right timing, karma, or whatever you call it, exists. We’ve talked a lot about the benefits of teamwork, why teamwork is important, and how to have a better team this month, but we haven’t addressed the big issue of teamwork failures, so that’s what we’re going to take a look at today.

Let’s face it: not all teams are successful. Some statistics show we have a better chance of being successful when we’re working with and supported by a team, but sometimes the team just isn’t right and doesn’t succeed. It could be that the members of the team didn’t give their all, or much effort at all. It could be the fault of one member who is really against the goals of the team, or forced to be on the team and therefore shares their misery with everyone they come into contact with. It could be the goals just being too daunting for the team and their limited resources to accomplish. Or it could be bad, unsupportive or ineffective leadership. At one point in time or another most of us have experienced these situations and been frustrated by them, after all, very few people like to fail and team failures can be especially frustrating.

But the fact is that teams do fail. They have their bad days and bad seasons just like we individuals do. But the hallmark of a true team is what that team does with the loss. Do they drag out the failures, making mistake after mistake, or do they choose to pick themselves up because they realize they’re living the definition of insanity? It’s not easy to make changes in a team, after all there are more than one or two people there to work into the changes. But because so many people are involved it’s always better to make changes before things get so bad you can’t turn them around. Don’t wait to be falling off the deep end with your team before you start to make changes. Have a protective stop loss that you’ve chosen and be in communication with the team about how you’re going to move forward and what’s best for not only the individuals but the whole team.

Failure is inevitable, but it’s up to you how bad the failure is when it happens. Choose victories and success over catastrophic failure, even if it means making some hard changes.

“Teamwork makes the dream work, but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team.” John C. Maxwell

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