What Makes A Team Miserable?

The other day a bunch of us were sitting at our café table discussion just about anything and everything. So, when I was asked this question in a cafe discussion on leadership and managing a team, “what actions do you notice that makes a team miserable?” To say that we had a very lively discussion would be an understatement.  I posted this on my internal blog post to see what people felt and got a couple more to add.

Here are the behaviors or actions (or non-action) that will easily make the team miserable.

  • Ignoring bad employees. We all get that dealing with problem employees is not an easy task. That most of the “dealings” should be behind closed doors. When actions don’t change for a very long time the team suffers. The doubts start coming into the better employees. Is the manager really doing anything? Why don’t they just get rid of this person? Actions need to be noticed by the team or they believe that the manager is ignoring the situation.
  • Blanket changes rather than dealing with the problem. This one is pretty much like the ignoring the bad employee.. Let’s take the situation about working from home. Over the years, we have had policies that have swung to both sides. WFH can happen with your managers approval, no day limits – to – only one day defined and agreed upon by your manager. What is the “real” problem? Are we losing our culture? Or was it hard to account of office space and trying to manage WFH employees? We all have opinions on this matter… Go ahead and discuss.
  • Hold back your good employees. Everyone needs good people around them. They help the manager look good! They make the team look good. If you hold them back within your organization – you will lose them. Not today, but at the first chance that they can. For me as a manager, I truly enjoy seeing some of the people that I have managed do well. I only hope that I had some help in their success.
  • Think only of the customers and not the employees. This one definitely is a sticky one.. The customer should come first. There are situations that when doing the best for your organization and the company, does not always sit well with your customers. Most of us at the table have internal customers – so, it is something of a balancing act. But, to stand up and push your organization many different directions due to the customers, well – one thing you can count on is the teams themselves will suffer. Look at 4 customers, with different priorities and needs. Your small team to deliver to all 4 customers on all of the different priorities and needs. Words like “suck it up”, “we need to be flexible at all costs”, “you guys have pulled rabbits out of your hat before why not now” – are good once and awhile, but as a habit – not so much.
  • Everyone loves the new manager that waltzes in. Change is not a bad thing, if done right. Many of us have experienced the “newbie” that comes in like the bull in the china shop. “You all have not been doing good work in the past, and I am here to fix that immediately.” They usually come in with the best intentions, but forget to really provide the back drop to their statements and the explanations to their changes. First impressions, go both ways.
  • Be extremely ineffective at escalations or pushing back on new projects. When a person or two (or all of them) come with an escalation that needs your help and you do nothing. The first thing that pops into most team members minds are “what do I need you for?” When that happens – the leader can just feel the footsteps on their backs are the escalation is being given to someone else. Pushing back is not easy sometimes, but when you know you team is completely booked up. Saying No is a good thing.
  • Be a dictator and make arbitrary decisions.  Always a winner in my book. The self proclaimed “king” (not Lebron James) and what I say goes, don’t ask a question and just do it. The king has his serf’s upset and they are rebelling. Sad part about this one is rarely does the king see that the serf’s are rebelling.

There are probably a bunch more.. We only had about 30 mins (and a few additions from comments) on this topic and a bunch of us had to leave for a 1pm meeting.  Maybe you can take this one to a café table near you. Come back with your lively discussion!

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