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20 Ways to Manage A Dysfunctional Team

20 Ways to Manage A Dysfunctional Team


A Dysfunctional situation in the work environment arises from a dysfunctional team.  One team member with poor management skills can explode a business environment- but a great manager who never pulls his weight on the team can do the same thing.

What then could the problem be? Could it be from office chaos created by unmanaged office politics?

Whenever a group is formed, there is a possible chance of play for power and positioning — that’s natural. The question remains, how do you manage a dysfunctional team?

Here are 20 sound ways to nip the problem in the bud before it escalates.

1.     Diagnose The Problem

The first thing to do in order to effectively manage a dysfunctional team is to first identify the cause of the problem. With the knowledge of the cause of the problem, you will be well informed and properly guided in managing the team.

2. Seek Their Opinion

Making all the team members stake holders in finding a solution to effectively managing the team will sure help. Seek for their opinions and try as much as possible within your power to implement their opinions if it is workable.

3. Study Their Temperaments

Take out time to study the temperaments of each member of your team. When you understand what motivates and inspires them as individuals, you will be guided adequately on managing them aright and increasing productivity for the team. Never make the mistake of treating every member of your team in the same way.

4. Discourage Cliques

If you can eliminate cliques in your team, you’ve succeeded in taking a giant step towards unifying the team. Any team that works in unity usually achieves more.

5. Encourage Open Communication

Encourage every member of your team to communicate freely and openly. Nobody or group of people should be permitted to hold secret meetings or secret chats to the detriment of the team.

6. Set Ground Rules

Get every member of the team involved in setting ground rules for the team. Identify negative attitudes and characteristics that makes it dysfunctional in the first instance; set rules that will checkmate it. Make sure that anyone found wanting pays a fine. For instance, rules like “All phones must be on silence or vibration mode during office hours” could be made. Anyone whose phone rings buys breakfast for the whole team. That’s a pretty good punishment, don’t you think?

7. Encourage Team Bonding

Taking your team members out for team bonding events will go a long way in helping them become friends. Take them out to see movies, play games and have fun, and then watch if they will not sit-up to maximize their potentials.

8. Celebrate Birthdays

Take note of your team members’ birthday; celebrate with them even if it means providing the cake and drinks at your own expense. It will impress in their hearts that you care about them and they in-turn will want to give you their best.

9. Be Firm

Managing a dysfunctional team requires that you as the team leader is firm with decision and instruction. Let them know that you are serious about making the organization profitable and that you aren’t ready to tolerate mediocrity.

10. Be Friendly

If you as the team leader show that you care about your team members and encourage them to feel at ease with you, it will help you manage them effectively.

11. Display Competence

In the first place, for you to lead any group of people, you are expected to know what they don’t know and do what they can’t do. The responsibility falls on you to always work on improving yourself so that your team members will have something to learn from you.

12. Celebrate Brilliance

If any member of your team displays any act of brilliance, don’t fail to celebrate them and use them as example worth emulating. Celebrating them publicly but mildly should make a positive impression in their hearts.

 13. Encourage Healthy Competition

Effectively managing a dysfunctional team requires discouraging unhealthy competitions and encouraging healthy competitions. Team mates should not work to bring down other team mates, but rather work hard to create a win-win situation; a win for them, and a win for their organization.

14. Create a Forum For Feedback

Knowing how your team members are coping with their jobs, company policies et al is important if indeed you want to effectively manage a dysfunctional team. Make them feel free to air their views in team meetings, or via phone calls, text messages, Social media agency and emails.

15. Demand Their Commitment

Tell every member of your team what is at stake and demand their commitment .Let them know that you need them to make the organization grow. There is no need to mince words about this, especially if you want your organization to develop.

16. Hide Your Preferences

Never allow your team members know that you prefer someone over them. Hide your preferences and show everyone that you care for them, and that they can become their best.

17. Delegate Only To The Qualified

Delegating is inevitable in a team; but when you delegate to the wrong person, it will promote disunity amongst your team members. Never delegate to less qualified. Delegate tasks to team members according to their respective abilities.

18. Create a Conducive Work Environment

In effectively managing a dysfunctional team, ensuring that the work environment is conducive and favorable to them is very important. Employees can become dysfunctional when the organization structure and system is not functioning right. Tight work spaces and foul air would only make things a lot worse.

19. Review Their Salaries

Employees sometimes become dissatisfied when their salary can no longer pay their bills. When you review salaries and make it more attractive, it will help in motivating and increasing their commitment. Plus they won’t want to misbehave and lose their source of livelihood.

20. Conduct Appraisals Regularly

When checks and balances are put in place, people tend to sit-up. Conducting appraisals quarterly, bi-monthly and yearly will help you effectively manage a dysfunctional team.

Finally, you are on your way to build a sturdy and formidable team, if you put all these tips in use. Remember, brokering peace with your team starts with you.



Published by Valentine Belonwu

My name is Valentine, founder of this site, an entrepreneur working as a moderator at Bizsugar a small business community news site. Connect with me on Google+ at Valetine Belonwu


  1. Kathleen · April 15, 2013

    Very well said, Valentine: “A Dysfunctional situation in the work environment arises from a dysfunctional team.” Unfortunately, to overcome the dysfunction, the functional team members find the only option is to leave the team – by moving to a different position / department within the company, or leaving the company alltogether.

    I would like to add another management option, similar to your item #3 (Study Their Temperaments): Adjust your own temperament. It has been my experience that it is up to you, the manager or team leader, to make necessary adjustments to your own way of acting, thinking, performing towards certain opposing temperaments.

  2. Gaurav Khanna · April 17, 2013

    Hi Valentine, you have written a very useful and long article. All 20 tips are very nice and can help a manager to better work on his/her project and to make his/her team more productive. Thanks for sharing such useful information with the world.
    With Regards.

  3. Dorothy Yoder · April 18, 2013

    Managing a dysfunctional team can really be stressful, that is for sure. Good thing there are tips like all those mentioned above to help you in leading a kind of team such as dysfunctional one.

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