Highly Functional & Dysfunctional Teams

It’s that time of year again, when educators around the world head back into the classroom and the rolodex of educational terms seemingly grows and grows. Phrases like “unpack” “wonderings” “core values” “leaner agency” (& the most recent one I’ve come across “sharenting”.. that’s right, “sharenting,”) grace the likes of Twitter feeds and stickie notes all around the world.

Now, don’t get me wrong a common language is certainly helpful in building a community and culture. This isn’t a dig against the on-going and ever-growing bank of educational jargon. In fact, may some of it probably does help to encapsulate, motivate and bring colleagues together through a common understanding (with or without their “sharenting stories”).

But what happens when it doesn’t?

Highly functional and dysfunctional teams was the topic of conversation recently within my PLN.

So, let’s unpack our wonderings . 🙂

What made the teams we’ve been on functional / dysfunctional ?

What was in place that allowed workflow and productivity to thrive ?

What was preventing this from happening?

What made each of these experiences memorable?

Here’s what I scribbled down

Highly functional

  • Properly Planned
  • Good relationships
  • Being okay with differences
  • Buy in
  • Shared responsibility
  • The emphasis on harnessing individual talent for the collective greater good
  • Intentional time allotted to listen, learn and grow from one another
  • Trust
  • Decentralized
  • Fun
  • Humor
  • Dependability
  • The freedom to create & innovate


  • Archaic systems
  • An unwillingness to adapt to new ideas and information
  • A lack of perspective,
  • A lack of communication
  • A lack of time
  • A lack of reflection
  • Micro-management
  • An insular mentality
  • Egos
  • Passive resistance
  • Centralized

….you get the point.

Now it’s your turn. (Feel free to leave your responses in the comments below.)

Try for a moment to reflect on you past experiences and / or current working environment. Try to think of a time you’ve been in both context.

What made the teams you’ve been on functional / dysfunctional ?

What was in place that allowed workflow and productivity to thrive ?

What was preventing this from happening?

Looking forward to hearing what you think



One thought on “Highly Functional & Dysfunctional Teams

  1. Surrounding yourself with talents, skills and experiences mixed in with drive, creativity and gumption always seems to be a decent mix. Teaming is a lot like kids coming together in a classroom setting. As students gravitate towards things, interact and come in and out of learning and who they interested in being around… educators needs to do the same. I find in teams that energy finds energy. A team of two or three may gravitate towards each other because they gel, the ideas flow and you all ha e something to show for it. This can be sometimes looked down upon from others who may feel more like outsiders. This is in many ways the root of dysfunctional teams. Imagine if we recognized the power of alliances forming and had enough foresight and confidence to allow that energy to spark. Imagine if that energy then inspired those outsiders to be more like drivers in controlling what they can do and contribute instead of feeling inferior or intimidated by competent people around me. In my experience, I have seen too many situations where teams have crumbled because of insecurities. We have to rise above that. “I am me because of you,” if we all believed this ideology we would be so much better off. Knowing when to work on something with who and how to approach it needs to be seen as professional trust. You don’t always need to be at that meeting or part of everything that is going on. Let others get in with it and if you find yourself feeling a little lost, you have a choice to make. Do I get on with something else and contribute in other ways. Do I go over, listen and show an interest and seek opportunities to connect or do I go hide and feel like the world is against me and then start to blame others for my inability to take initiative and drive ideas forward?

    Liked by 1 person

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