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10 Ways to Create an Unhealthy Team Environment

I am not sure why you would want to, but just in case you ever did, I know some keys to creating an unhealthy team.

Seriously, I realize no one intentionally sets out for unhealthiness, but I’ve seen it so many times. There are things which injure the health of a team.

Perhaps understanding how it develops can help, because just as with a healthy team environment, creating an unhealthy team environment doesn’t happen without intentionality. We have to work at it.

Here are 10 ways to create an unhealthy team environment:

Make people question their role or performance on the team.

Avoid all conflict.

Pretend things are okay when they are not. In fact, exaggerate the positives and avoid the negatives.

Add rules which impact everyone, rather than dealing with the real issue.

Never applaud. Always critique.

Keep people wondering what the leader is really thinking.

Allow innuendoes, finger pointing and excuses to govern decision-making.

Hold mistakes against people rather than using them as a learning experience.

Limit the control of decisions made to a few people.

Have no clear purpose for the team.

How many “points” did you score?

Anything you would you add?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 22 Comments

  • Kerry Rose says:

    Nice post, I liked it very much. Read something on a similar subject at recently

  • ronedmondson says:

    Thank you. 

  • ~ Play favoritism
    ~ Fail to appreciate diversity
    ~ Stifle creativity and innovation
    ~ Fail to demonstrate integrity

  • Dale Cobb says:

    1. Fix the blame not the problem
    2. Sacrifice whatever it takes to reach the deadline/budget – including family, relationships, personal integrity, work long hours, Holidays, etc.
    3. Always Micromanage

  • carmelchristine says:

    Solid list. It may have been mentioned but here are a few:

    * Remain vague and ambiguous in all aspects of the organization;
    * Discourage/forbid team members from note-taking, following-up on projects;
    * Forbid face-to-face connections, interactions…

  • Carey says:

    I'd add these…
    * Give team members unclear job descriptions, or better yet, none at all.
    * Focus more on their job than you do on their being.

  • Todd Adkins says:

    Provide no performance review
    Provide performance reviews but with no substance, no critique
    Have no personal development plans for your team

  • Matthew Reed says:

    Here's a few
    Keep your mistakes hidden.
    Pursue your own agenda instead of the team's
    Gossip lots about others in the group

  • Lynette says:

    Thanks for this post. The list definitely calls forth thought. I would add something else. This probably falls into "Pretend things are okay" or "Avoid conflict," but I would add "always praising without critique." I know that seems weird, but when critique is equated with "negativity" and "being unloving" we set-up a different type of unhealthy environment; one in which people can't grow and develop skills or discover their calling and gifts. I once had someone tell me that it was better for everyone to be mediocre than to have superstars because everyone will get along better and that was more important than quality of work.

    I feel that we can all be superstars when we identify our gifting and passion. So, I see a balance between critique and praise as needed to help grow healthy environments. That being said, critique needs to be done in a way that helps build up rather than tear down the person. I will always be grateful to a political science professor I had in graduate school who tore my first paper apart but at the same time gave me pointers on how to improve my work. On the next paper I turned in, he acknowledged my improvements in the weaker areas. I've always appreciated that.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Absolutely. I wrote a post previously about this…that critical thinking is not always being critical. We need positive critical thinking. 🙂 Thanks.

    • Carl says:

      Praise without a stated reason is empty and only serves to devalue and not enrich.