Negative Team Dynamics

What is a negative team dynamic?

A negative team dynamic occurs when individuals or groups within an organization exhibit behaviours that undermine each other’s ability to perform effectively. The most important characteristic of a negative team dynamic is that it is destructive, not constructive. It does not help people achieve their goals; rather, it hinders them from achieving those goals.

Negative team dynamics are a major cause of employee disengagement and turnover.

How do you know if your team has a negative team dynamic?

There are many signs that can indicate whether or not your team has a negative dynamic:

1. Overbearing participants: Senior people or the area experts on the team dominate the conversation and do not allow the discussion in their area of expertise; this may be a sign that there is a problem with the group dynamic.

2. Dominant participants: If one individual in the group takes charge of the discussion, this could also be a sign that the group dynamic is unhealthy.

3. Reluctant participants: People who don’t want to participate in the discussion at all. This is often a sign that the group doesn’t like working together.

4. Unquestioned acceptance of opinions as facts: When someone makes statements without questioning them, they are assuming that these statements are factual. However, if everyone accepts them as fact, this could be a sign that the team is unwilling to challenge what they believe to be true.

5. Group thinking: A group thinks collectively, so others will follow suit if one person says something. They might say things such as “I agree with him/her” or “That’s my opinion too.”

6. Feuding: Feud is a prolonged and bitter quarrel or dispute between two or more team members, leading to heated discussions in the meeting.

7. Floundering: Flounder means to move around aimlessly or randomly. In a floundering team, no one knows where to go next. This is the problem teams face during starting and ending the project.

8. The rush to accomplishment: Teams rush to accomplish tasks to meet the deadline near the planned completion date. In this rush, the team ignore the quality and the meeting the standard requirements.

9. Attribution: When a team member blames another for problems, this shows that they are attributing responsibility to someone else. Sometimes these are casual remarks without any fact supporting them.

10. Discounts: When a team member discounts someone else’s contribution (ignoring a person's opinion), this shows disrespect towards that person.

11. Digressions and Tangents: When a team member starts talking about unrelated topics, this shows a lack of focus on the current issue.

12. Inability to accept criticism: When a team member refuses to receive feedback, this shows their unwillingness to improve.


In summary, the team leader should identify any of these negative team dynamics in the team working and take necessary action.

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