Dealing with Dysfunctional Teams

The perfect team is nonexistent! Teams are composed of people with different opinions and attitudes as well as individuals having flaws and failings. Despite the dysfunction, most teams are still able to get their work done, but likely not as efficiently as possible. However, in some cases, a team's dysfunction is so pronounced that it cripples productivity completely.

Common Reasons for Dysfunctional Teams

  • No common vision
  • No performance goals
  • Roles are poorly defined
  • Distrust between members
  • Individuals' needs are not being met
  • Reward / recognition processes are either not in place or not applied equally

Despite the reason, it is the responsibility of the team leader to get the team back on track. If not, the moral of the members will begin to suffer and this will prevent the team from working effectively together to achieve a common goal. The team leader must help the members see that working together is in their own self-interest and will make their work easier.


Quick Reference (printable) 



  1. Lerner, Susan S (08/2009). Teaching teamwork in medical education. The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine (0027-2507), 76(4), p. 318. [UAB Link]
  2. Papadakis MA, Teherani A, Banach MA, et al. (2005). Disciplinary action by medical boards and prior behavior in medical school. N Engl J Med;353:2673-82. [UAB Link]
  3. Swiggart, William H WH (2009). A plan for identification, treatment, and remediation of disruptive behaviors in physicians. Frontiers of health services management (0748-8157), 25 (4), p. 3.