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Chances are, if you’ve served on very many teams, you’ve served on one which is dysfunctional. It appears to me we have many to choose from in the organizational world. There are no perfect teams. We are all dysfunctional at some level and during some seasons.

In case you’re wondering- my definition of a dysfunctional team – in simple terms – is one which cannot operate at peak efficiency and performance, because it is impacted by too many negative characteristics. There’s more going wrong than right more days than not.

In my experience, there are commonalities of dysfunction. If you have been on a dysfunctional team you’ve probably seen one or more of the common traits.

See if any of these seem familiar.

7 indicators of a dysfunctional team:

1. Team members talk about each other more than to each other. The atmosphere is passive aggressive. Problems are never really addressed, because conflict is avoided. The real problems are continually ignored or excused.

2. Mediocrity is celebrated. Everything may even be labeled “amazing”. Nothing ever really develops or improves because no one has or inspires a vision bigger than what the team is currently experiencing.

3. It’s never “our” fault. It’s the completion or the culture or the times in which we live. No one takes responsibility. And, everyone passes blame. Will the real leader please stand up?

4. Communication usually brings more tension than progress. There may be lots of information, but it’s not packaged in a way which brings clarity. No one knows or recognizes a win.

5. The mention of change makes everyone nervous. Either change is rare or it’s been instituted wrong in the past. Any real progress has to be forced or controlled.

6. Only the leader gets recognition or can make decisions. Team members never feel valued or appreciated. No one feels empowered. The leader uses words like “I” or “my” more than “we” or “our”.

7. There are competing visions, goals or objectives. It’s every team member for his or herself. The strategy or future direction isn’t clear.

According to my observations have you served on a dysfunctional team?

Granted, every team goes through each of these during seasons. Again, there are no perfect teams. But, if there are at least two or three of these at work current I’d say it’s a good time to evaluate the team’s health and work to make things healthier.

How many of these can you currently see on your team?

Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years of business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been in full-time ministry for over eight years.  

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