5 Reasons Most Teams Underperform

Guest post from Mark Miller:

Have you ever been on a great
team? I’ve come to realize over the years not everyone can say yes. As I think
about my own experience, I realize I’ve been on scores, if not hundreds of
teams; unfortunately, the majority have not lived up to their potential. The
more I study the topic, the more it feels like there’s a global pandemic of
underperforming teams.

Think about the wasted human and financial capital from teams who don’t reach
high performance team status. Like a scientist from the Center for Disease
Control, I wanted to find the root cause of this problem and the cure.

My personal team journey began
almost 50 years ago. As a child, I played on sports teams from my earliest
memory. My professional team journey officially began just over 20 years ago.
In an attempt to improve quality in our restaurants, Chick-fil-A asked me to
help us learn and apply the best practices of the most elite, high performing
teams. I wrote about our journey in my book, The Secret of Teams.

Today, I’ll focus on the five most common reasons we’ve seen over the years for
underperforming teams.

1. Lack of Leadership

This may seem obvious but the
truth is most teams that struggle and those that ultimately fail do so because
of poor leadership. There is a legend that great teams can exist without
leadership – it is a myth. Teams must be well led. This can come from an
individual or the team itself, but leadership is the single-most critical
factor for team success.

2. Insufficient Focus on Results

Great teams exist to accomplish
something. If a team doesn’t have clarity on the results they are pursuing,
they will drift. Worse yet, they will waste resources. A compelling performance
challenge is at the heart of high performance.

3. Wrong Players on the Team

The team with the best talent
usually wins. This is no guarantee but it matters. Do you have men and women on
the team who are team players? Are they willing to learn and grow? Are they
open to feedback and coaching? Are they willing to accept responsibility? If
you’ve got the wrong players, high performance will forever be just out of your

4. Skill Gaps

Does your team have the necessary
skills to excel? A team needs two distinct skill sets to perform at its best –
individual and team skills. Do the members have the skills needed to perform
their assigned responsibilities with excellence? Does the team know how to
solve problems, make decisions, resolve conflict and have effective meetings?
If any of these are lacking, the performance will be too.

5. No Sense of Community

The little known fact about teams
is what actually makes the great ones great. As important as Talent and Skills
are, they are insufficient to propel a team to greatness. The best teams always
demonstrate a genuine care and concern for each other. We call this community.
It is a place where the team members know, serve, celebrate and mourn together.
It is not an accident; it is the result of a conscious decision to create this
type of place.

The good news – all of these deficiencies can be overcome. Your team can do it!
Many have successfully navigated the road you’re on today. Granted, the path to
the top is not easy to travel, but the view from the summit is unmatched. Stay
the course and enjoy the journey!

Mark Miller, well known business leader, best-selling author, and communicator, is excited about sharing The Secret of Teams: What Great Teams Know and Do with those who are ready to grow. You can find it on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere. You can also read Mark’s blog at greatleadersserve.org.