We all know team work is a critical component of success in any workplace, and it’s important to take a look at your team’s performance from time to time. Team work reflection is essential to identify any warning signs that might indicate a lack of team work so that you can take action to improve the situation. But what is it you want to look out for?

Rotten Apple in front of mirror as symbol for team work reflection

As a team building provider, we reflect on the state of our team regularly. And we learned a lot along the way. Sometimes, things head into the wrong direction. And there are always ways to improve team work skills. So here are our personal top five critical warning signs to look out for, along with real life examples and the proper questions to identify problems:

No. 1: Poor Communication

Obviously, communication is key in any great team, and poor communication can lead to misunderstandings and mistakes. If your team is struggling with communication skills, it’s a sign that they lack the trust and respect required for effective team work. Studies found that a functional communication within an organization is key for employee motivation (Tip: Ice breakers are a great way to get a conversation going).

Example: In a team project at a tech company, poor communication between the development and design departments led to a delay in the launch of a new product. The design department was unaware of the technical limitations of the project, and the development department was unaware of the design requirements. As a result, the team had to spend extra time fixing the problem and missed their launch deadline.

Teamwork reflection questions:

  • Are team members regularly missing or failing to respond to important communications?
  • Do team members seem reluctant or unwilling to engage in open and honest discussions with one another?
  • Is there a lack of transparency and clear information-sharing among team members?

No. 2: Lack of trust

Trust is a crucial ingredient in any great team, and it’s essential to foster trust within your team. When team members don’t trust each other, it can lead to conflicts and a breakdown in team unity. A study by the University of Cambridge found that trust is the foundation for information sharing, and thus basis for a company’s success. In our team buildings, we have a strong focus on trust exercises, and we do see the outcome in our daily business.

Example: In a usually effective team at a marketing agency, a lack of trust between team members led to a breakdown in team unity. One team member was accused of taking credit for another team member’s work, and as a result, team members were no longer willing to collaborate or share ideas. This led to a decrease in team productivity and a decline in the quality of the team’s work.

Reflection Questions:

  • Do team members frequently question one another’s intentions or decisions?
  • Are team members unwilling to rely on one another for support or to take risks?
  • Is there a lack of openness and vulnerability among team members?

No. 3: Resistance to change

Teams that resist change and new ideas are unlikely to adapt to new challenges and may miss opportunities for growth. This resistance often correlates with a lack of trust in leadership and the decisions made. Teams that embrace change are more likely to be successful in a rapidly changing business environment. Teamwork reflection is a great tool

Example: In a team at a financial services company, resistance to change led to a decline in team performance. The team was responsible for updating financial models, but they were reluctant to adopt new methods and technologies. As a result, their models became outdated, and their clients started to look for alternative solutions.

Reflection Questions:

  • Do team members frequently resist new ideas or approaches?
  • Are team members slow to adopt new technologies or processes?
  • Is there a lack of willingness among team members to experiment and try new things?

No. 4: Competition instead of collaboration

Teams that are more focused on individual success than team success are likely to experience a lack of cooperation and reduced productivity. While an overload on collaboration can indeed be a problem by itself, a lack of such is endangering the overall success of a company. A common cause for collaboration issues is a perception of the reward of individuals rather than teams as a whole. A team building can help to tackle those problems.

Example: In a team at a consulting firm, competition between team members led to a lack of cooperation and reduced productivity. Team members were competing for bonuses and promotions, and as a result, they were reluctant to share information and work together on projects. This led to a decline in the quality of the team’s work and a decrease in team morale.

Reflection Questions:

  • Are team members frequently working in silos, without coordinating with one another?
  • Do team members fail to collaborate effectively, leading to duplication of effort or conflicting goals?
  • Is there a lack of mutual support and shared decision-making among team members?

No. 5: Inadequate leadership

Teams need clear direction and leadership to succeed, and if your team is lacking in this area, it can lead to confusion and a lack of focus. Many of the problems already described could be prevented by true leadership. In our leadership trainings, we focus on both, leading by example and being able to identify team work issues before they start to effect the team’s performance.

Example: In a team at a software development company, inadequate leadership led to confusion and a lack of focus. The team leader was not providing clear direction, and team members were unsure of their roles and responsibilities. As a result, the team members engaged in conflicts over roles and direction rather than collaborating effectively.

Reflection Questions:

  • Is there a lack of clear direction or focus among the team?
  • Are team members unsure of their role or responsibilities within the team?
  • Does the team lack clear decision-making processes or a clear chain of command?

Team work reflection: Conclusion

Team work reflection and thus identifying any warning signs is an important part of building a successful and productive team. By addressing these five critical warning signs, you can improve team work and increase the overall success of your team. So, take a moment to reflect on your team today, and see what you can do to make it even better!

VIDEO: Timo Lethi about the Magic of Team Work