Is This a Winning Team or a Lost Cause?

All material on is copyrighted to Marie G. McIntyre. All rights reserved.
May be reproduced for non-commercial use with copyright and attribution to
Commercial use requires permission: email

Successful work groups need three things: (1) Shared goals that are clearly defined, (2) Effective processes for accomplishing critical tasks, and (3) Positive relationships that encourage collaborative interaction.

For some groups, everything seems to fall right into place, but others seem to struggle for months or even years. And certain combinations of people turn into truly toxic teams.

To evaluate your own group’s strengths and weaknesses, complete the assessment below. Then use the results to make your group a winning team instead of a lost cause.


Check the statements that apply to your team.  If some statements are NOT checked, then you have some work to do.

GOAL Assessment: Do we know where we’re going?
Our goals have been clearly defined.
All members understand their role and responsibilities.
We know what outcome or “product” is expected from our work together.
All members agree that the goals are important.
Management has explained how our work fits into the larger picture.


TASK Assessment: Do we know what we’re doing?
In discussions, we stay focused on the task and avoid unrelated topics.
Disagreements are clearly defined and resolved.
All members are able and willing to share information.
We welcome and explore new ideas and suggestions.
During discussions, we periodically stop to summarize where we are.
Decisions are made in a timely manner.
Decisions are communicated to everyone who needs to know.
We stick with schedules and meet our deadlines.
Our meetings end with assigned actions steps and responsibilities.


RELATIONSHIP Assessment: Can we work together successfully?
Team members all know one another reasonably well.
Members have discussed the individual hopes and concerns about our work.
We have identified our shared interests and common goals.
Members always communicate in a polite and respectful manner.
Members can acknowledge and discuss different points of view.
In this group, we understand the disagreement is healthy and desirable.
People can disagree in a constructive manner.
In discussions, everyone is encouraged to participate.
We respect and use our work style differences on this team.
We are able to turn conflicts into problem-solving discussions.
Members of this group like to laugh, joke, and have some fun together.


If you check these statements, then you have some problems! Take steps to break your team’s bad habits.

PROBLEM Assessment: Do we have any destructive habits?
Team members spend a lot of time socializing during meetings.
We tend to go off on lengthy tangents during our discussions.
When differences arise, members attack people instead of problems.
Some people withhold information that others might need.
Some members withdraw and sulk when people disagree with them.
We tend to shoot down new ideas as soon as they are presented.
People tend to get into control battles with the leader or one another.
Certain people always dominate the discussion.
We have a tendency to avoid conflicts or resolve issues through email.
We frequently delay difficult decisions.
Team members often refuse to consider other viewpoints.