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4 types of teams that help or hinder organisations

By Adrian Baillargeon | |6 minute read

Does your team sort out issues independently, allowing you to focus on the bigger picture and work at a higher level? Is your team unified and proactive? If your response is “I wish”, you are not alone.

In a global survey, Salesforce discovered that 99.1 per cent of respondents prefer a workplace where people identify and discuss issues truthfully and effectively, but less than 50 per cent said their organisations do this well. If it was only so easy.

Based on my 20 years of working across three continents, four types of teams can help or hinder a company’s ability to win. Depending on the level of clarity and the strength of relationships, a team can be sinking, spinning, self-serving, or, best of all: shining. Below are insights and tips to help your team swear more by each other and truly shine.


The Sinking Team

In these teams, people always need more time. There are often more issues than wins. Doubling up on tasks while others go unfinished is common. Blame surfaces and finger-pointing are the norm.

A lack of confidence and sense of belonging occurs because very little is accomplished at work, leading to sick days, mental health issues and high turnover.

Leaders of these groups focus on one thing - keeping their job. Swearing in the team happens often and quietly, but it’s not good. Due to a lack of achievement and confidence, individuals swear about themselves and not by others.

To stop the sinking, teams need to align on the team’s purpose, roles, responsibilities, and objectives. They should also work on creating better relationships. Incorporating personal storytelling into team meetings, having team members work on a project or sharing a meal are simple and powerful ways to improve the connection between each other.

The Self-Serving Team

Cliques and gossip are rife in self-serving teams. Only some individuals win on these teams, leading to inconsistent outcomes. Rather than competitors, they compete against each other. Few teammates share insights or ideas, and progress is slow.

Leaders in these teams are frustrated and burnt out because they spend more time meditating than influencing. Swearing in the team happens behind each other's backs and is more often than not about each other rather than by each other.

Relationships must improve to shift from self-serving to shining. Strengthen relationships by fostering deeper connections. Honest discussions about teamwork are a must. Alternatively, a survey or facilitator can unearth festering issues and opportunities. If relationships don’t improve, leaders must address their concerns and what’s at stake with 1:1 conversations with those exhibiting the worst behaviours.

The Spinning Team

These teams feel nice, everyone gets along, and there is little disagreement. Unfortunately, they also make minimal impact. People typically work long and hard but see little progress because they lack clarity on objectives, roles, and responsibilities. As a result, spinning teams work harder. Energy does not renew because of little progress. Dissatisfaction and resentment build, leading to less motivation. Swearing amongst these teams eventually is directed at the leader.

As a result, the leader’s confidence and resilience drop, questioning the team's abilities and their own. To stop the spinning and transform into a shining team, discuss and agree on the group's purpose; share individual objectives and establish a team objective; clarify where there might be confusion about roles and responsibilities; and lastly, agree on which behaviours will help the team work better together.

The Shining Team

Shining teams function with high energy and performance. The team is consistently deliberate about aligning and ensuring mature relationships. It doesn’t mean they always get along, but they get through the bad times quickly and build great momentum and power.

The team can see the impact they are making. This helps renew their energy and be at their best more often than not, which allows them to influence beyond their function or industry. Because the team works so well, leaders have the space to focus on growing the business, their people and themselves. These teams, of course, swear by each other and not about each other.

Complacency is costly and being deliberate pays dividends. If your team is not shining, with the right approach and level of intentional focus, you can transform how your team does teamwork and fast-track the success you deserve.

By Adrian Baillargeon, conference speaker and leadership team performance expert, author of Teams that Swear.


Team building

The goal of team building is to instil a culture of interdependence and trust among employees so that they feel appreciated for the work they do and appreciate what others bring to the table. Although this may be implemented as a training programme, it mainly depends on morale and company culture to develop a long-lasting, maintained feeling of team.