3 Reasons Your Team is Underperforming

by Kayla Crum on Feb 29, 2024

As a leader, do you ever feel like you could accomplish great things at work if only your team would just get along?

You’re not alone. According to Gallup, 60% of workers today are emotionally detached while at work. Even worse, 19% describe themselves as miserable. It’s no wonder that when team collaboration is required, these types of attitudes result in less than desirable outcomes.

The reasons for dissatisfaction at work are as varied and numerous as workers themselves. Ultimately, though, they fall into the following three categories.

Outside influences

As much as we like to imagine ourselves capable of compartmentalization, the reality is people bring their outside lives into the workplace with them.

This truth was glaringly obvious during the COVID-19 pandemic. Worldwide, companies had to contend with a new virtual landscape that impacted every aspect of their output. Although the pandemic now exists mostly in the rearview mirror, it has left a permanent mark on the workplace. Remote and hybrid schedules in particular impact workplace culture and productivity.

In addition to the recent pandemic, leaders are grappling with geopolitical unrest, intergenerational discord, and economic uncertainty. According to Forbes, uncertainty at work leads to higher stress levels and worse health outcomes than outright job loss. It is crucial for leaders to create a sense of consistency and trustworthiness on their team if they want to reduce turnover and achieve profitable results.

Individual behaviors

While the macro influences on workplace culture play a significant role in team performance, the micro influences of individual traits and behaviors also impact business efficacy.

C-suite leaders in particular tend to have trouble with the so-called “soft skills” traditionally associated with team building. In years past, highly valued leadership traits included administrative prowess, financial expertise, and technical knowledge. Interpersonal skills were thought of as simply an added bonus, or were even perceived as a weakness in such a demanding job.

While sometimes effective at increasing profit margins, skills in this area do not necessarily lead to a healthy and thriving team culture. A difficult team dynamic can ultimately result in higher turnover and declining productivity. Plus, organizations with poor culture are often outed publicly online, dampening their reputation.

Companies have noted this deficit and are changing their approach to hiring. Harvard Business Review reports a statistically significant increase in the listing of “strong social skills” as a requirement in C-level job postings over the last two decades. Communication skills and the ability to unite and motivate a diverse team are increasingly necessary in today’s globalized economy.

An imbalance of results and relationships

These multifaceted issues may seem beyond your control as a leader. However, in our work with high-level teams over the last thirty years, we have identified a guiding truth. When teams are struggling, it’s typically due to an imbalance in the prioritization of results and relationships.

Teams that attempt to rectify poor workplace culture with an emphasis on relationship-building sacrifice accountability and productivity on the altar of connectedness. In contrast, teams that hone in on results as their top priority experience decreased morale, high turnover, and employee dissatisfaction.

Before you jump to address intergenerational discord or reprimand C-level executives with attitude issues, take a comprehensive look at your team’s dynamic. Ask yourself if you tend to lead with an emphasis on results or relationships. Underperformance can result from either approach if done to the exclusion of the other. Both are needed to unlock higher levels of success.

This common leadership issue is why our team designed the guide, “Building A-Teams: Balancing Results and Relationships for Long-Term Success.” Download it today to learn how you can take your team from underperforming to exceeding expectations.