3 characteristics of a terrible team

characteristics of a terrible team

Some teams work well together and some teams don’t.  Those that work well together succeed; those that do not work well together do not succeed.

Check out this story that illustrates this:

To highlight its annual picnic one year, a company rented two racing shells and challenged a rival company to a boat race.  The rival company accepted.

On the day of the picnic, everyone entered into the spirit of the event.  Women wore colourful summer dresses and big, floppy hats. Men wore straw skimmers and white pants. Bands played and banners waved.

Finally the race began.  To the consternation of the host company, the rival team immediately moved to the front and was never headed. It won by 11 lengths.

The management of the host company was embarrassed by its showing and promptly appointed a committee to place responsibility for the failure and make recommendations to improve the host team’s chances in a rematch the following year.

The committee appointed several task forces to study various aspects of the race. They met for three months and issued a preliminary report. In essence, the report said that the rival crew had been unfair.

The report said, “They had eight people rowing and one coxswain steering and shouting out the beat. We had one person rowing and eight coxswains.”  The chairman of the board thanked the committee and sent it away to study the matter further and make recommendations for the rematch.

Four months later the committee came back with a recommendation: “Our guy has to row faster.”

3 characteristics of a terrible team.

1. Team members are not actively participating.

On a terrible team, team members simply do not contributing enough. They do not live up to commitments. They do not do enough adding to the overall workload of others on the team.

2. Poor communication between team members.

On a terrible team, team members are reluctant to share their knowledge and experience with each other. They think learning and sharing is “one way traffic”.

3. Full of blame and excuses.

On a terrible team excuses for non-performance and blaming others is a common behaviour among team members. Faults lie with others, the kind of work, the facilities – well almost everyone and everything other than the team itself.

What are some other characteristics of a terrible team?

Categories: Leadership


  • What a sad but accurate analogy. A good team is not so hard to figure out in concept, but it takes a lot to put it into practice. It sort of goes along with the blame and excuses, but I would say ‘no personal responsibility.’ Without taking some ownership of the team, they essentially live as ‘free agents’ looking for whoever and whatever will meet their needs instead of contributing. Thanks Kevin.

  • Aasma says:

    Good communication among the team members is very crucial aspect for having amazing team. If any team lacks it then they’re certainly a poor team.

  • Petra says:

    The most common mistakes in non-efficient teamworks is in most cases the lack of communication. If the things aren’t separated and the competences aren’t described and defined and nobody knows what exactly to do, the results are going to be very low…

  • I’ve been on awesome teams that won time after time, and I’ve been on teams that seriously sucked. There is another component to the reason teams suck Kevin – they simply do not buy into the goal. The last company I worked for specialized in teams that sucked – morale was horrible in the company – and yet they were puzzled why again and again the incentives fell flat. Leaders need to gain buy-in from their team members – they can’t just assume or gain support through threats or ultimatums.

  • Veronica says:

    A good team is difficult to make as no two individuals are same. The best way is to have effective communication and respect the differences. A good team is the foundation of any successful event.

  • Rosemary says:

    Hi Kevin,

    You have made some very good points here. Working as a part of a team is so important in our business and personal lives.

    Many thanks for taking the time to share your tips.

    Take care Rosemary

  • Joy says:

    I agree with your last point about having a lot of blame and excuses. That’s because everybody in the team won’t admit that they have their own faults too. I think acceptance and an open mind is a key!

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