Dysfunctional Group Behaviours

A group can become dysfunctional when one or more individuals behave in ways that inhibit the group’s ability to function and perform well.

Sometimes the whole group may collude with each other in the same behaviour or behaviours and collectively impede its effectiveness as a group.

The group may develop the collective habit of leaving things too late, or not taking deadlines seriously, or never challenging each other.

Usually it is one or two members who behave dysfunctionally (literally, against the functioning of the group).

It far better to deal with, or even prevent, dysfunctional behaviours in a group as early as possible in the life of that group. At the end of your first group meeting, allow some time to ‘check out’ with each other. Everyone gets a chance to speak and to share their reflections on that first group meeting. What went well? What went less well? What suggestions do they have for improving how the group functions next time we meet?

Below is a list of such dysfunctional group behaviours. They can only be dealt with if they are embodied in a set of ground rules or if the group members agree to be open, honest and constructive. Speak out before things get worse! And also remember to praise, to say what worked well, and to celebrate success.