4 nasty habits that turn teams toxic

By January 18, 2017Performance

At Sharpstone Skinner we have spent years coaching teams to attain and maintain high performance. We have developed a process to take teams through so they give of their best and achieve great results.

Some teams get there quickly, some get distracted. There are many reasons why this happens. One of them is a set of bad habits that can turn teams toxic.

Do you recognise any of the following four people in the team you’re in, the team you lead or a team you once worked in?

Ali is one of the best performers in the team. He consistently meets and sometimes exceeds his targets. Having said that, he also regularly comes in late, often disappears early, rarely does the necessary admin and almost never replies to anyone’s emails.

Ali illustrates Nasty Habit number one. He thinks partial high performance gives him the right to underperform in the rest of the job. He’s so used to people saying of him that he “brings in the money” that he feels his failings are legitimate. The rest of the team look on and seethe.

Laura has been one of the team for 3 years. She is a satisfactory performer, not a star but a solid and consistent worker – and there’s a lot to be said for that. At times though she is difficult to deal with. She can be bad tempered, overly negative at meetings and has lots of bad day where other team members tend to give her a wide berth.

Laura has fallen foul to Nasty Habit number two. She demonstrates a capability to do the job. She’s a safe pair of hands. But her conduct falls below par. She gets away with it because it’s so much more awkward to call time on bad behaviour than it is bad performance. So the team have learned to work around her bad days.

Sophia is the longest serving team member. She doesn’t always engage with the Organisation’s vision and often thinks she knows how things could function better. She is quite vocal about this and makes it clear that she does things her own way. She likes to think of herself as a bit of a rebel.

Sophia’s bad habit can hide behind the mask of Maverick but actually she is a bit of a pain and a bit of a drain. Bad Habit number three takes argument and debate to the point of obstruction. It takes all sorts to make a team and that is a good thing. But for teams to work, you have to, at the very least, all sign up to the same vision. If one team member wants to follow their own vision, then that’s fine. They just have to do it somewhere else. But Sophia is still here.

Stefan isn’t your best performer, but he is absolute sweetie. He’s kind, helpful, always offers to take on tasks and support other team members. Everyone likes him – what’s not to like? The trouble is, he doesn’t seem to achieve very much. He always seems so busy though, helping out.

It’s hard to see Stefan as having bad habits because he’s nice, he’s team focussed and he’s helpful. All admirable qualities, but they need to be present in addition to doing your job, not instead of it. So Simon demonstrates Bad Habit Number Four – working hard at everything except your own job.

So did you recognise any in your team? Dare we say it, did you recognise any of those traits in yourself? You may know of more bad habits but these are the ones we see often enough to make them worth a mention.

The good news is, they are habits and habits can be broken. It takes time and a bit of effort but it can be done and the effort gets you a more energetic, more effective team, whether it’s a team you lead or one you are part of.

A new year is nearly upon us. Time for a detox?