Why Teams Fail

Share on Facebook0Share on LinkedIn0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on Twitter0

Along with Mom and apple pie, teamwork has become a sacred cow to American businesses. Yet, one survey by Mercer Management found that only 13 percent of 179 teams received high ratings. “Somehow, we have to get past this idea that all we have to do is join hands and sing Kum Ba Yah and say, ‘We’ve moved to teamwork.” Many companies are narrowing the focus and time horizon of teams. A team manager at Texas Instruments counsels that not everyone has to be on a team and that only 5 percent of its workforce are on self-directed teams (Brickley, Smith & Zimmerman, 2009, p. 507).

Teams fail in many different ways. Research has shown that teams fail more often than they do succeed. Teams can fail by the lack of team planning, support for a team culture, resources, clarity, mutual accountability, effective leadership, focus, and training (Witt, 2011). Planning a team is the biggest obstacle to overcome. Finding the right people that work together and are excellent in brainstorming ideas is the hardest part about teams in general. Teams are bound to fail directly from the assembly line if they do not work well together. If a team lacks the support to demonstrate effectiveness, the team is bound to loose its team culture. A lot of the times a decision could be made effectively by a team who has the resources to do so.

If a team isn’t equipped with the resources to meet the demand and/or time frame of the project, more than likely the project will fail as well as the team. Just like in planning, if the clarity of the team goals and initiatives aren’t very clear, then the team will be confused as to what to do with themselves. Accountability is a huge part too! If the team were successful then you would want all of your members to be rewarded and acknowledged. Same goes for a team that is broken! If a team fails to meet their initiatives the entire team should be accountable. This also brings about the effectiveness of leadership. If leadership fails to lead the team in the right direction, why should the entire team be reprimanded for his or hers actions? This brings me to my last point, team training. If leadership, combined with individuals, were to be trained properly for their job duties, then each task should be obtainable. Vise versa, if they were not trained proficiently then leaders along with individual members would fail at teamwork all together.


Brickley, J., Smith, C., & Zimmerman, J. (2009). Managerial Economics & Organizational Architecture. (5th ed., p. 38). New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Witt, D. (2011, November 03). 60% of work teams fail—top 10 reasons why. Retrieved from http://leaderchat.org/2011/11/03/60-of-work-teams-fail—top-10-reasons-why/