Extraordinary Team Blog

Beware the Four Sins That Wreck Teamwork

Posted by Kristin Arnold on September 25, 2008

Ideally, you want to work with your team members to accomplish great things.  When working with your teammates, there is a terrific exchange of ideas and solutions, based on mutual respect and understanding.  When working with others, both sides are working together to achieve team success.  But sometimes we fall into one of the four sins that undermine our teamwork:

Talking At, Rather Than With, Your Teammates.  Much like a parent talks at a child, some may talk at their teammates in an authoritative “I know this, and you don’t” tone.  People with perceived power typically talk at others in a direct and abrasive manner.  They tell them what they know and aren’t really listening to what others’ opinions are.  They think they are better than others.  In a team environment, that attitude is the kiss of death.  In a team, every person has a valid perspective and contribution to make.  No one person is better than another.

Talking About Other People.  Much like when we were kids, when we don’t get our way, we talk about the other person behind their back.  Talking about other people without that other person’s ability to share their perspective is rude.  To the extreme, it is called backstabbing.  When you find yourself talking about another, simply stop!  Go find that person and have a meaningful conversation about the circumstances and why you feel the way you do.

Whining.  If you look hard enough, you can always find something to complain about.  Constant complainers whine about what happened, what didn’t happen, what they did, what they didn’t do, who they did it with . . . and the list goes on.  Misery loves company.  Ever notice how all the complainers band together?  Watch out . . . you can get sucked into the melodrama of how everything is wrong in the world.

What to do?  Stop the complaining.  Quit cold turkey.  Or, as Clint Maun of Maun-Lemke Inc., consultants to the health care industry, eloquently states:  “Quit your BMG” (bitching, moaning and groaning).  All it does is pull the team down with you.

Talking Around Them.  In the era of e-mail and voice mail, it’s easy to flip indirect barbs about our teammates.  After all, they are just trying to communicate in the easiest, fastest and most informal way possible.  Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words have a lasting impression.  If you have a problem, go talk with them directly.  E-mail and voice mail are a great way to share information, not a great technique to solve team problems.

Question:  Which of the four sins are you most guilty of?