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Dysfunctional team

In this article you will discover the key elements of analysing a dysfunctional team.

A dysfunctional team is a team whose average performance is below 7/10.

Location on the positioning matrix:

Description of a dysfunctional team:

Repeated conflict and constant tension;

No freedom of speech;

Maximum frustration leading to very low motivation;

High risk of absenteeism, turnover and PSR. Fear of speaking out;

A lot of tension in the team;

Conflicting environment;

The manager does not know how to handle the subject;

Tensions between opposing groups within the team;

Significant delay in processing applications;

Withdrawal of the team from the rest of the organisation;

Form of defeatism / no hope.

⚠️ CAUTION: The manager is not the main cause of a team dysfunction. Each team member is responsible for the functioning and current state of the team.

Objectives of a debriefing with a dysfunctional team:


Essential elements to prioritize when analyzing a dysfunctional team:


Defining the team's mission is key. Do the team members have the need to work together? Does the team exist? Experience shows that this is crucial to getting teams out of the dysfunctional level.
Are there inheritances? Beware they impact on the feeling of respect and the feeling of fairness. To get rid of these inheritances, shed light on them, discuss them with the team.


Re-establish psychological safety by improving the 3 components: Benevolence, Learning mindset and Humility mindset. If there are harmful relationships to error, judgement, self-righteousness and pride, make it clear to the team that this generates a very high level of fear and does not help the team. In practice, we advise you to work with the team on their values and the behaviors they wish to see embodied in their daily lives.


Go around the table and let everyone have their say.

Low psychological safety can cause gaps. Don't try to fill them in to allow an opportunity to talk.

All points of view are important to move forward. Remember to give everyone a fair chance to speak. All team members should have an opportunity to share their views (especially the more introverted ones).

It is NEVER an interpersonal problem, but a functioning problem (including the management of the values & behaviours dreamt of by the team).

Even if at the end of the debriefing the session does not seem to have gone well, do not lose hope, because real awareness very often takes place in the post-debriefing. Don't forget that you are working on human dynamics, it takes time.

Updated on: 20/08/2021

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