4 ways to help low-performing teams succeed

By Brooke Chaplan

When it comes to the business world, the importance of teamwork cannot be overstated. A functional team is able to be more productive, creative, and effective than its individual parts could be on their own. Sometimes, however, teams can hit roadblocks that cause them to “spin their tires,” resulting in missed deadlines and frustrated employees. Here are a few tips to help low-performing teams survive and thrive.

Take a breather

A common culprit behind an ineffective team is burnout. As teams are pushed to do more and more, they struggle to keep up with all the different moving parts of a particular project. As individuals within the team begin to become overwhelmed, the camaraderie that the team once enjoyed quickly begins to break down. At this point, then, it’s important to get the individuals on the team to see outside themselves to help them re-focus. One way to do this is by injecting some fun through a team-building exercise or a retreat that reminds the team members that there is more to life than work.

Skills assessment

The beauty of a team is that it enables specific individuals to combine their strengths in order to accomplish a goal. However, when the individuals on a team are unaware of their strengths (and weaknesses), it can be difficult for the team to function properly. That’s why strategies such as 360-degree feedback are so successful. In this method, anonymous feedback is solicited from several individuals regarding a specific person. That person then looks over this feedback to find areas of strength and weakness to see how he or she can most effectively contribute to the group. Since those who work with the person provide the feedback, it is likely to be well received, meaning it will work well for his or her personal development.

Get the big picture

Another problem that teams can run into is losing sight of the big picture in the middle of individual tasks. A team, ultimately, is assembled to jointly tackle a single problem with a quality solution. However, it takes individual contributions from the various team members in order to make that happen. If the team is segmented, meaning it’s hard for team members to see how their work is contributing to the overall project, each individual can quickly become frustrated. That’s why it’s so important to have regular status updates with a clear view of how the overall project is progressing.

Take a step back

In some cases, it may be necessary to dissolve a low-performing team. If dissolution becomes necessary, it’s important to provide departing team members with some type of encouragement before the team is officially dissolved. This could take the form of a final status meeting where team members talk about what they learned. This could also take the form of re-shuffling individuals, allowing the former team members to be re-organized into new groups that are more effective than the original team turned out to be.


Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at facebook.com/brooke.chaplan or Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

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