Teamwork Troubles: 7 Big Mistake that Tear Apart Your Team

Karin Hurt and David Dye are keynote speakers and the award-winning authors of Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul. 

Your competition isn’t in the guy in the left Zoom window, it’s mediocrity.

A huge mistake we see otherwise strong managers make is working to build teamwork among their direct reports, but forget that they’re part of a bigger team. So, while they’re working hard to Win Well, they accidently sabotage teamwork and tick off their peers.

Avoid teamwork troubles by avoiding these 7 mistakes. 

7 Mistakes that Sabotage Teamwork

If you like your peers well enough, but teamwork is breaking down, look carefully to see if you’re making one of these common mistakes.

  1. Getting Stuck on Being Right- Over Effective

When you know you’re “right,” it can be tough to figure out how to also be effective.

When you disagree in front of an audience, particularly if that audience is your boss, even if you’re right, your peers may feel like you’ve thrown them under the bus.

  1. Over aligning with your boss

If you’re a “good soldier doing everything your boss asks, without the ability to think for yourself, your peers will wonder what value you add. Of course, support your boss. But also build a reputation of having your own point perspective.

See Also: Why your great boss might be hurting your career.

  1. Losing Peripheral Vision 

When everyone is heads-down focused on getting things done, it’s easy to sabotage teamwork as you lose sight of your peer’s perspectives.

We see it all the time. HR sees compliance training as the most important thing—with lots of good reasons.

IT thinks HR has lost their mind to even consider doing training at a time like this.

Customer service needs IT to stop making promises they can’t deliver on.

Everyone’s right, everyone’s frustrated, and everyone’s finding it hard to accomplish their most important priorities.

  1. Over-defending your team

Of course, advocating for, and defending your team, is generally a good characteristic. Your team wants to know you have their backs. It’s also important to keep a realistic and balanced perspective.

Sometimes the best person for that coveted special assignment isn’t your high-potential candidate. Sometimes it’s YOUR team that screwed things up and the best next step is to apologize, not defend.  And yes, sometimes the recognition needs to go to the guy on the other team who knocked it out of the park—even though your team has been working hard too.

Consider what supporting your own team, is doing to teamwork on the bigger team.

When everyone is heads-down focused on getting things done, it’s easy to sabotage teamwork as you lose sight of your peer’s perspectives.

  1. Shutting Down Ideas







In our research on psychological safety and speaking up at work, 67% of the respondents operated under the notion that “this is the way we’ve always done it.” And those same managers just as likely to shut down ideas from a peer.

To build better teamwork, be sure you are actively soliciting and advocating for ideas from your peers.

  1. Under-investing in peer relationships

Particularly when you’re working virtually, it’s easy to under-invest in peer relationships.

Managers tend to focus on their team and boss first and hope the peer relationships will evolve naturally.

Just like any human interaction, coworker relationships take time and energy to grow properly.

  1. Withholding Best Practices

Often high-performers will share ideas and best practices when you ask for them, but are too busy (or competitive) to do so proactively.

Or they don’t share because they don’t want to look braggy.

Meanwhile, people are wasting time spinning their wheels because they’re unaware that a coworker has already figured it out.

Talking Teamwork: Spend a Moment with Your Peers to Improve Teamwork

Talking about these common problems that sabotage collaboration (even in the abstract) can help you find a better path forward to better teamwork to take everyone’s performance to the next level.

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