+65 96825987
Contact Us

What are team fault lines?

Fault lines are hypothetical dividing lines within a group that can have a negative impact on team cohesion and performance. they are based on demographic attributes (such as race, gender, or age) and can be either visible or invisible to group members.

Research has shown that fault lines can have a negative impact on team outcomes, including lower team cohesion, reduced communication, and poorer human decision processes. However, there is still much to learn about how fault lines form and how they can be addressed.

In this article, we will explore the concept of fault lines in detail, including what they are, how they form, and their impact on team performance. We will also discuss some strategies for addressing fault lines in diverse teams.

Due to the many ways in which team members differ, the team faultlines are a possible line that might separate the team into various sub-teams. The link between team faultlines and team processes has been extensively studied by academics, but no general agreement has been established. According to some academics, team faultlines will make collaborations just a formal affair, lead to disagreements, and weaken team cohesion and productivity. Others, however, contend that team faultlines may present chances for sub-teams to exchange a variety of information and foster serious reflection, learning, and creativity, enhancing the standard of judgment and team performance.

Crises can heal faultlines or make them worse

Conflicts across faultlines typically start with relatively small incidents, similar to how a nurse may challenge a doctor in front of a patient.

But in this instance, a serious catastrophe is at hand. The faultline is unlikely to result in issues if both groups are equally affected as nurses and physicians now are. A shared “enemy” fosters a sense of community.

However, a lot of companies have faultlines opening up as a result of a crisis. For instance, a legal firm’s labour & employment practice group is now quite busy, but the merger & acquisition practice division is essentially doing nothing. That might lead to the faultline between these practice groups splitting apart. It becomes more challenging for employees to support one another and have a shared view of what needs to be done in a company the more specialized it is.

The terrible part is that both groups can be really attempting to assist one another. But suspicion of the other person’s motives breeds friction which might subsequently lead to inefficiency.

Three ways to overcome the negative impact of faultlines

1. Establish shared goals

Although the survival of the company and the health of the employees are shared goals, they are too broad to direct the actions of each group. Therefore, be sure to establish unifying objectives that inspire both groups to action. For instance, the objective can be to “keep operations functioning with the majority of individuals working remotely.”

A target that spells out what needs to be done for the engineering and operational teams. Innovative engineering solutions are needed to keep people safe. Operations are aware of the need to attempt to do more with fewer personnel on the job or in the office.

2. Shift towards a more relationship-focused leadership style

Try to change your management style to one that is more relationship-focused. Why does that matter? Relationship-oriented (or relationship-focused) leadership is a behavioural strategy in which the team leader places special emphasis on the team members’ happiness, motivation, and all-around wellbeing.

Instead of concentrating on the tasks at hand and ensuring that they are completed, focus on the people involved and ensure that they are aware of what to accomplish and why.

3. Use connectors

Someone who has a connection to both groups is referred to in this sense as a connector (e.g., the salesperson who used to be an engineer or the engineer who used to be in operations, or someone that has worked for both business units).

In the aforementioned scenario, if faultlines are strong, having engineers define a procedure and protocol for collecting employees’ temperatures at the entry may not work. Because operations wouldn’t have faith in engineering to comprehend the problem in such circumstances.

A connection may lessen the negative consequences of a faultline, even if it is only one individual who has knowledge of both business sectors.

In the aforementioned example, the engineering staff may assist operations by creating the protocols and processes for a relatively straightforward activity, such as taking everyone’s temperature, and by doing so, they can relieve operations of one of their burdens.

Overcoming the negative impact of faultlines on team performance

Building team identity

In teams with a significant faultline, the importance of team identity cannot be overstated. The team’s leader must make sure that each team member maintains their distinct identity while simultaneously identifying with the group as a whole.

Team members stop thinking in terms of “us vs them” and start thinking in terms of “us,” which is inclusive.

  • Team identity may be fostered by leaders:
  • through a system of rewards for the group
  • by bringing the group’s shared identity to mind
  • employing words that emphasize “we” as a group
  • by making team members dependent on one another in order to do a task.

Setting team goals

Assign team members to responsibilities in cross-cutting tasks (ie tasks that cut across the faultline, such as having two teammates from different cultures cooperate in seeking information from the group). This will increase team effectiveness.

Fostering positive diverse mindsets and team diversity

Team members who are open-minded and optimistic about the advantages of diversity tend to view diversity as variations between people rather than between grouping, which encourages demographic diversity.


The study of fault lines is crucial for understanding the dynamics of diverse teams and organizational groups. By understanding how fault lines can influence group processes, we can potentially develop strategies for mitigating their negative effects.

Whatsapp Us

© 2021. Happy Sparrow Adventures