Demotivational Teamwork

Demotivational Teamwork
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Impact of Teamwork

Teams, when performing well, can produce products and services at a very high level that meet or exceed expectations. Efficiency levels, team morale, and company results all are very interdependent on each other. High team morale with the accompanying high productivity will generally lead to much better performance on projects and tasks. Conversely, the same is true. Demotivational teamwork processes result in dysfunctional teams. Management can stifle growth, cause customers to look elsewhere, employees to underperform, and organizations to stagnate.

Teams have a tendency to move through different stages of growth, empowerment, and relationships. This movement is an ongoing process and involves movement both forward and backward–largely depending on the projects and tasks that are undertaken, linked to the respective experience and talent levels of team members. As the team evolves, relationships and responsibilities are strengthened, sometimes to the point of creating cliques and turf battles.

Here are a few common demotivators that will affect how a team performs on a daily basis.

Poor Communication

Teams rely on constant communication. This includes listening to what others are saying or requesting, communicating updates as soon they are available, or communicating problems or issues as they surface. Cutting off any type of communication immediately sends a red flag to other team members that something is not right. Meetings are some early casualties of poor communication as the level of quality information goes down. Decisions and business activities are based on poor quality information simply due to the lack of sharing information. After a while, team members become frustrated with the lack of communicatoin and information, ultimately leading to demotivational teamwork.

Ignoring the Team

Man leaning on desk

Nothing will create anger or hostility faster than ignoring what others are saying or doing. Teams and team members don’t like to be ignored. It’s a rude behavior that creates unhealthy and unnecessary negative feelings in team members. This is especially true when management ignores the achievements and accomplishments of teams along with the individual achievements of their team members. Naturally, when this happens, feelings of uncaring management and not being appreciated will lead to higher levels of resentment and skepticism among the team. Gossip and negative insights will permeate most discussions from this point on about management, which in turn, creates further unhealthy feelings in teams or team members about company management. This reaction usually leads to mediocre or poor team performance.

No Follow-Through

If the team leader, manager or a team member commits to doing something but does not follow through, it creates much the same negative feeling as being ignored. Team members lose confidence in the person’s ability to get things done and, over time, will begin to avoid working with the person for fear that his inability to follow through on things will have a negative impact on themselves. When this happens, poor communication will likely follow and misunderstanding are sure to surface. Depending on the frequency of the behavior, the level of mistrust could rise to an unworkable state, seriously impacting the success of the team.

Autocratic Behavior

When working in a team environment, decisions constantly need to be made. Sometimes it’s important that someone in a leadership role takes this responsibility. However, there is a fine line between giving direction and constantly telling team members what to do. Part of the appeal of working in a team environment is the feeling of empowerment and the periodic team decision-making and camaraderie that often follow. A person in a leadership or decision-making positive who is constantly barking orders to others will eventually wear very thin. Team members will find ways to appease the autocratic behavior instead of focusing on eliciting top performance from themselves and each other.


Favoritism is a killer of team morale for those who haven’t been chosen as a “favorite.” Not only does it kill team morale, it undermines the other people on the team who are interested in learning new skills, participating in the team’s projects, or providing new insights or ideas. Eventually, resentment will settle in and the concept of teamwork begins to fall apart. Team members won’t support any favored candidates, so work flow and sharing of information become more stifled.

Lack of Cross-Training

With no cross-training, it’s very easy to get pigeon-holed into only being able to do certain tasks. After a while, the lack of new challenges can get very frustrating and create a “who cares” mentality. This negative mindset becomes more prevalent as each day passes without any additional challenges. As team members continue to do the same work, the negativity amplifies, causing resentment and finger-pointing as deadlines get missed and quality suffers.


Supervisory and Management Training Institute; Get Rid of the Demotivators at

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