You probably aren't interested in destroying your team. But sometimes we engage in behavior that ultimately would have that outcome. So it might be helpful to look at ten behaviors that undermine a team's spirit and crush incentive. Hopefully when you are reading these tips you won't find too many of them that you engage in on a regular basis.

Get your red pen out and mark through all of these you don't do. The low score wins the Best Team Player award!

1. Fear is the glue that keeps things running. Intimidation is a short cut to collaboration. If you run over your team members' ideas, using overt criticism and coercion, you create an atmosphere of fear. In this situation you may get what you want in the short term, but without collaboration the team will be less creative and have difficulty problem solving.

2. Don't ask employees their opinions. One way to keep involvement down is by not seeking ideas from people who are likely not to agree with you. If you keep making team decisions based only on the ideas of those who usually agree with you, there will be less discussion. Without the input of all involved team members decisions are based on narrower viewpoints. The members who are not involved stop trying to contribute. At this point the situation become chronic and productivity is almost always negatively affected.

3. The pay is the thing. Don't fall for the idea that people show up to work for a paycheck. The American Management Association studies reasons people leave jobs annually. They consistently find that pay is fourth or fifth on the list. The number one reason for poor retention is bad relationships with direct supervisors and team members. I am not saying pay isn't important, but if you rely on it to keep teams involved your company will lose.

4. There are no stupid questions, only stupid people. It may be obvious to you, but the obvious is rarely obvious to everyone. The fresh viewpoint can lead to an elegant solution. Take every question seriously. "We've always done it that way," is not a valid answer. The question that seems so simple can sometimes cause the team to really focus on a process. Procedures have a tendency to become entrenched. When a process or procedure is questioned, at times great benefit can be gained by taking the time to answer the question thoroughly.

5. Other members are not your friends. In some competitive environments team members see their co-workers as antagonists. Intra-team competition is very hazardous to team functionality. Co-workers don't have to be your friends, but they aren't your enemies. Collaborate within the team and take on the world. Compete within the team and the world takes you down.

6. You are the Big Dog. Every team has a leader. If you are in a position of authority and don't utilize the diversity of your team, your team will not flourish. The leader may be "top dog," but only in title. Good leaders use the resources of the entire team.

7. Initiative must be crushed. Uniformity is overrated. Team members find enjoyment in initiating action in an area of interest. Highly functioning teams allow members to pursue areas of interest, as long as it doesn't take away from their regular responsibilities. No one knows where the next great thing is going to come from. Find a place on your team for members to pursue their passion and that next great thing may come from your team.

8. Self doubt has no place in a Team Leader's mind. When you find yourself in a position of authority, remember you have not suddenly become omniscient. Examine your decisions thoroughly, particularly if you're getting negative feedback. Be fearless in admitting errors and your team members will respect you for it.

9. Only you can understand the big picture. This is another fallacious assumption made by some team members. I've been here the longest; I have the most advanced degree; I've got the most experience or the worst of the bunch... I am the only one who knows how to make this work. What makes a team excel is the contributions of all members. If one member begins to believe they alone understand THE issue, the team as a whole suffers.

10. Never listen to team members. I am right or knowledgeable or experienced and don't need the input of the other folks. You may have been the one with the breakthrough idea on the last project, but don't start believing you don't need the team. Sometimes it is the newest team member with the least experience who can look at a problem in a fresh way. Listening to everyone maximizes the chance that all issues (even the sneaky hidden ones) will be dealt with.

By following these ten simple steps you can destroy a team in short order. Or learn from the mistakes of others and your team can move from ordinary to extraordinary.

Author's Bio: 

Richard Highsmith,, is President of Quality Team Building. He has twenty-five years experience training and coaching. He has built and sold two successful businesses. To learn more about becoming a team leader visit our website at