I once wrote a piece titled tough times forge great teams. This was a couple of stories showing how great teams were built over crisis-like situation. While I don’t change my mind on that one I have a supplement.
The other side of the coin is that depending of level of pressure around team or seriousness of crisis great teams can be killed instead of forged. Consider all people in the team as empty pages, which will never happen in the real life. If you put them in tough situations they’ll probably self-organize, become stronger. Weak individuals will go away but the rest will grow.
Now if you push more and more you’ll finally crush this construction. People are not machines. Sure, each of us can stand a different level of shit but that’s a job, not a besieged stronghold. You can always walk away to find a better work. If a current job is crappy you’ll find a better one much easier.
In small teams it’s often enough to see the first person leaving to disintegrate a group. In bigger ones it’s more blurred. Some people walk away, the rest have to share the shit among them. Survivors are pressed more and more people leave. Then you look for a manager, tell him a bunch of lies, hire him and since then it’s his problem to clean up the mess.
One thing is common for both forging and killing great teams. It happens silently and it takes time. You can’t just see an instant change and say “hey, we now have a great team here… somehow.” If you’re not aware you won’t see teams dying either.
By the way, if you’re about to hire a manager ask candidates a question how many of their teams were great.