4 Habits that Erode Your Team

I regularly see four common habits playing out on less than high-performing teams. Yes, there are plenty of others, but these four are prevalent.

Ineffective Communication — It is doubtful you are communicating enough. You might think you are, but it takes frequent repetition to get through, not volume. Second, if your leadership style is not matching the situational needs, you are not helping; you’re hurting.

What to do: Constantly work on your communication style. Be clear about your intent and offer the right amount of direction, coaching, support, or delegation as needs change.

Ego Protection — I have long-held the belief that the top and bottom of organizations mostly “get it.” One is closest to the client’s voice, and the other has the best perspective for setting the vision. Unfortunately, the vast middle tends to dilute the messaging between the two. It’s like the parent caught between the child’s needs and the grandparent simultaneously. It can be stressful. However, instead of concentrating on the customer or implementing the vision, the middle, more often than not, focus on protecting their ego. They get involved in office politics, backstabbing, undermining, self-promotion and spin. All to look good, so they can get the next promotion, or hang on for the golden handcuffs because they have mortgages and college tuition to pay for, trips to take, and kitchens to remodel.

What to do: Remember to protect the ego of the person you’re communicating with and put yours aside.

Fear of Uncertainty — Life is uncertain. In fact, the more certain you think you are, time will typically prove you wrong. While you might not have too much effect on uncertainty, you have 100% influence on the fear: yours and those of your team. Lack of information breeds fear.

What to do: Provide light. Don’t allow people to fashion stories based on limited information. Give them the facts and context. It may not eradicate fear, but you’ll be amazed at how easy it becomes to manage it.

Rewarding Off-Purpose — Psychology tells us, the things that get rewarded or recognized get repeated. I consider reward and recognition anything that highlights and celebrates any behavior. So, if you are making a big deal about someone’s lapse in performance yet remain mute each time they get it right, or approximately right, you are essentially rewarding off-purpose. Behavior, activity, meetings, initiatives that get attention but have nothing to do with the organization’s purpose are likely to continue.

What to do: Start ignoring off-purpose activities and shift your attention to the behavior that is on-purpose. Wage battle against these unhelpful habits and watch the trust and performance of the team rise.

You can probably find many examples of these triggers from your organization. To be clear, that’s a problem. Those with positional authority can either minimize or exacerbate each of these habits. However, they cannot ignore them and still consider themselves an effective leader because each of these four items requires attention. Otherwise, team dysfunction will grow and become entrenched, which serves no one.

Boston-bred and California-chilled Karl Bimshas is a leadership consultant, author, and podcast host who collaborates with underestimated professionals who want to become confident, competent leaders in their field without becoming a jerk. Improve the working relationships with your colleagues and direct reports to create high-performing teams with a series of leadership workbooks available at LeadershipWorkbooks.com



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store