20 Mistakes to Avoid When Building Your Team

team building mistakes

Team building lets you, the small business owner, sleep at night. And, as with anything in life, there are right and wrong ways to go about it. The most important thing to remember when doing so is that your team is human – they have feelings and emotions.

Persuasion is a necessary ingredient to proper team building and can aid you in a successful approach towards motivating others.  If you approach your team building efforts neglecting the feelings of others, you will be making some of the biggest team building mistakes there are.

To avoid that, read through this list of team building mistakes – and make sure you’re never guilty of committing any of them. If you’re tired of sleepless nights, there’s a good chance that your employees are as well.  Put your business team into place successfully, using diplomacy and tact, while avoiding these team building mistakes.

Do Not Make These Team Building Mistakes

1. The Assumption That Everybody Is Equal

A team consists of people. In essence, people with different skills, temperaments and learning curves. When you build a team with the false assumption that everybody is exactly the same, you are quickly heading for mediocre results.

2. Showing Your Preference

As a professional, you must strive never to make your employees sense that you have a preferred employee.  If your team members begin to notice that you prefer some people over others, they will be discouraged and unmotivated.

3.  Allowing Cliques to Thrive

When you allow cliques to thrive in your team, it means that you are promoting segregation and that will surely defeat the aim of your team. It can cause resentment among your team members towards one another.

4.  Being Subjective

As a good team leader, you must strive to always be as objective as you can be when dealing with your team. You can never succeed in building a good team when it is obvious that you are subjective.

5.   No Clear Cut Goals

If you don’t have a clear cut goal for your team, you are headed for failure. As the team leader, for you to successfully build your team, you must always communicate the goals that must be achieved to every member of your team. When you fail to do so, you fall short as a successful leader.

6.  Not Being Approachable

If you want to build a successful team you must be open and approachable. If you are not, you will not get the feedback that is required to help you and your business learn and grow. Being unfriendly, harsh and abrupt will leave important tasks undone, as well as get you and your business nowhere – fast.

7. Doing Most Tasks Yourself

The fact that you are the team leader doesn’t guarantee that you are the only one that can do everything better. If you are not delegating, you are missing the point of a successful team. Delegating is essential for your business, particularly if building a successful team is one of your goals.

8. Not Enforcing Rules and Regulation

It is not enough to have rules and regulations in your employee handbook. The responsibility falls on you to always enforce them.  You want to build a sturdy team and in order to do that, it’s imperative for all of your team members to adhere to the rules.  Otherwise, chaos will ensue.

9. Accommodating Indiscipline

Some people are naturally wired to flout rules and regulations. If you desire to build a successful team, you must always discipline anyone that breaks the rules. When you accommodate indiscipline, you are setting your team up for failure.

10.  Not Trusting Anyone on Your Team

If you approach others with distrust, you’ll always only ever see reasons why you can’t trust people. Building a team without trusting your team mates will hinder performance and production. You will always see reasons why they can’t be best at what they do. On the contrary, building trust will build a closer rapport.

11. Being Over Ambitious

You cannot achieve everything at once. Hence, you need to take things bit by bit with your team members. When you over work your team to meet your targets, you’ll wear them out quickly.  This will affect future target goals negatively by making your team apprehensive to being open to new goals.  People generally don’t like repeating negative experiences.  Never be over ambitious when building a team – slow and steady wins the race.

12. Not Rewarding Performance

If you choose not to reward and celebrate people that perform well in your team, you are going to send the wrong signals by failing to provide incentives. This amounts to a minus for you as a leader because you will never get the best of your team’s performance if you fail to reward them for their achievements.

13. Irregular Team Meetings

Team meetings are one of the major forums where people air their views. Building a successful team requires consistency in meetings. Not creating the medium for members to meet and discuss their ideas and thoughts will amount to a break down in process.

14.  Not Acting On People’s Suggestions

It is not a must to act on all of the suggestions you get from your team members, but you should try to act on the potent ones. When you don’t do this, you will discourage your employees from making suggestions to you in the future. Even if you get foolish suggestions, never make the suggested look foolish.

15. Giving No Room for Team Bonding

This might be expensive, but it is very important that you take your team outside their work environment to a place where they can relax, have fun together and bond. Not permitting room and opportunities for team bonding is permitting people to continue working together without truly knowing and understanding one another.

16. Neglecting Team Members Welfare

It is true that we go to work to add value and get paid, but if you intend to build a successful team, you must not joke with the welfare of your team mate. You must show them more than simply meeting their targets at work.  You must show them that you are interested in them and their lives outside of your work environment.

17.  Scolding A Team Member In The Open

Discipline is necessary when the situation calls for it, but it will do more harm than good when you do it in the presence of others, especially subordinates. You can summon members of your team that require discipline and do so privately and professionally.

18. Celebrating Excellence in Secret

When a member of your team performs excellently, it is always nice to celebrate them openly so that others can be encouraged and inspired to want to reproduce or outperform such feats. If you do it privately, you will have succeeded in demotivating the person that performed well and you will give the rest of your team no evidence of anything to strive towards.

19.  Allowing Unhealthy Competition

As a team leader, you have the responsibility to discourage unhealthy competition. Building a successful team requires competition among team mates, but when the competition becomes unhealthy and somewhat heated, the team quickly disintegrates.

20. Reminding Your Team of the Hierarchy That Exists

If at every opportunity you rub it in that you are the boss, you are unconsciously building barriers that will hinder the free flow of ideas. Ideas rule and hindering the flow of them will get you and your brand nowhere fast.

Remember: You are the leader and as such, you must lead by example.

Sad Employee Photo via Shutterstock


Valentine Belonwu Valentine Belonwu is from Nigeria and is the Founder of Business Gross, a site designed to help individuals understand that the economic and political climate is crucial when mapping out a quality financial strategy in their lives.

14 Reactions
  1. #7 is a tough one as you’re first adding people. It’s hard to let go.

  2. I think that it is a matter of balance. You can do some things by yourself but you should not do it all the time. The key is to create a team that really works together. Managing people is hard by itself so it will help if you learn some psychosocial concepts that can help you take care of your team.

  3. Great article. But would be better if the tips were worded positively, instead of negatively

  4. Point 17 is pertinent. Never humiliate your staff in front of others. Otherwise, they cannot work as a team and the boss lose out in the end.

  5. Thanks for sharing this list of things to avoid when building a team…

    I believe that #5 and #15, in particular, are tremendously important. Your team must have a clear compelling goal that drives their efforts, and must also be given the time and opportunity to create connections and learn about the strengths and desires of their teammates.

    I think that cliques are a natural part of any organization, and our job as leaders is to create MORE cliques, which are simply small groups of people who share a specific values, backgrounds, or concerns.

    That said, a good team building speaker or event facilitator can make your next conference or retreat a fun and impactful experience-

  6. Great article, wish I read something like this repeatedly over the past 25 years.

  7. You need to have clear cut goals for your business and for your entire team. Keeping everyone engaged in the business’s goals allows your employees to see how important their individual roles are to the success of the company. When everyone is on the same page, it boosts performance and ensures that the team is staying engaged with the tasks at hand.

  8. Very interesting. Good leaders that encourage their staff create an environment where goals are actually accomplished. Number 6 is pretty important. If you can’t talk to your boss problems go unnoticed.

  9. These 20 tips are really good tips. I especially like #15. All work and no play is a big no no for a team. Bonding with each other is essential if you want to have a team who has that certain bond between. Because this bond will make them support and help each other in their work.

  10. Great article! I believed what is written at number 6, in order to have a successful team, the manager/leader should be approachable, so that the employees won’t hesitate to ask for the help or tips to improve their work. And also to have a “friendly and healthy”environment, constant communication is needed.

  11. very good article, informative and helpful.