15 Challenges of teamwork and how to overcome them

Imagine you and your team are in a rowing race.

There’s no way you can lose, you think, as you look at your team. Some members are strong, some are smart and others are as cunning as a fox. 

And the opposition? Just boat filled with scrawny weaklings all in need of a good hot meal—no threat to you.

Or so you think…

When the starting pistol fires, the opposition glides away at blistering speed while yours thrashes around in disarray.

You shout commands at your team in an attempt to reorganise, but it’s already too late.

The strong ones are paddling backwards, the smart ones are trying to go forwards and the cunning ones are merely pretending to work.

You’ve lost to the “weaker” team…

This analogy demonstrates the effectiveness of a united team. An effective team is about collaboration, not strong individuals.

In this article, you’ll learn the common barriers that hinder teamwork and how to resolve them, allowing you to overcome the biggest teamwork obstacles.

Challenge #1: Your employees don’t trust each other

Trust is the oil that keeps the wheels of your business spinning. Without it, communication dwindles, creativity suffers and productivity plummets.

The tricky thing about trust, however, is you cannot conjure it in the same way you might optimise a workflow or cut bottom-line costs. You need to nurture it over time by giving your employees frequent opportunities to work together.

The more your team encounters and overcomes difficulty, the more they’ll realise they have a robust support network around them.

How to build trust between your employees

Challenge #2: Physical barriers are hindering collaboration

The rise of remote work has been a blessing for companies that work with freelancers and agencies. But for most remote teams, where collaboration remains part and parcel of the daily grind, scattered workforces are a problem.

When teams are unable to come together, they fragment. This distance makes collaboration more difficult which harms company culture and makes employees disengaged. 

Traditional offices, while not faultless, make team bonding easier. Here, employees can work at similar times, come together for meetings, share resources and enjoy chit-chats around the water cooler. But that doesn’t mean you should sit back and relax, because brick-and-mortar offices have their drawbacks too.

How to bridge physical boundaries and unite your team

Challenge #3: Managers aren’t providing enough clarity

Clear instructions help your team travel faster from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’. 

By clearly communicating expectations, roles and objectives, you give your employees a clear framework within which to work. With this, your staff can keep projects on track by identifying priorities and minimising redundant work. 

How to keep your team on track with clear instructions

Challenge #4: Employees don’t have access to important information

It’s impossible to complete a puzzle if you don’t have all the pieces. Your team must have access to all resources and information to complete their tasks effectively.

If your employees withhold information from their colleagues—either for personal gain or because of a communication breakdown—you’ll find them performing unnecessary work or missing key opportunities.

How to ensure information is widely accessible

Challenge #5: Your team isn’t communicating effectively

Poor communication is a common workplace issue that causes many teams to break down. 

Imagine if team members start acting alone and making decisions without consulting the group—a project would quickly descend into chaos.

For your team to function well, transparent and streamlined communication needs to be in place. This means resolving conflict quickly, giving and receiving regular feedback, maintaining multiple communication channels and ensuring transparency between departments.

How to facilitate effective communication

Challenge #6: Employees are unsure of their role

When employees are confused about the scope and limitations of their duties it can threaten your team’s functionality. Like the parts of a finely-tuned engine, every employee performs a specific job.

A well-defined role is not only good for project efficiency but also job satisfaction. When your employees understand their roles and responsibilities (and how these contribute to the company’s objectives) it gives a sense of purpose, improves focus and reduces stress.

How to clarify roles and responsibilities

Challenge #7: Employee habits and behaviours are causing conflict

Idiosyncratic behaviour can be a blessing if well managed, but it can also cause big problems when left unchecked. It would be far easier to manage a team if they had matching habits but this is rarely the case.

Therefore, you must find ways to indulge and restrict your employees’ habits while respecting individuality.

How to regulate employee habits and behaviours

Challenge #8: You’ve noticed a drop in employee performance

As your team expands, it becomes harder to monitor input. And the worst part is, one badly performing employee can drag the rest of the team down with them. Therefore, it’s critical to resolve performance issues before they fester.

How to stay on top of employee performance

Challenge #9: Employees don’t have the right tools for their job

As a manager, it’s vital to give your employees the tools they need to fulfil their roles. Without them, your team will lose faith in their employers and become frustrated by the lack of support.

It’s your responsibility, then, to determine what your employees are missing and what you can give them to make their jobs easier.

How to ensure your team have the tools they need

Challenge #10: Managers are overbearing and restrict autonomy

As a team leader, it can be hard to let go of control. But excessive dominance can hold your team back, just like an overbearing mother can leave her child vulnerable to the trials of adulthood.

The best managers can take a step back and oversee processes from afar. They’re not caught up in minor details, but rather keep a bird’s eye view of the process while improving workflow efficiency.

How to inspire your employees to take more responsibility

Challenge #11: Opposing personalities are causing conflicts

Sadly, you can’t place a bunch of talented individuals in a room and expect them to work well as a group. For your team to perform well, you need to teach your employees to consider different perspectives and resolve disagreements.

However, opposing personalities and ideas can cause conflict which will only get worse if left unattended. Therefore, the best time to act is now, before minor conflicts become major disputes.

How to manage interpersonal conflict

Challenge #12: Employees appear disengaged with their roles

Disengaged employees tend to be less productive and more likely to take time off work. And in worse cases, they might seek employment elsewhere.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to fixing low engagement. To identify the route course, you need to take a deep dive into the overall employee experience.

How to keep your employees engaged at work

Challenge #13: Departments and individuals have opposing goals

Your team should all be tugging from the same end of the rope, not fighting against each other. But as teams grow and new departments form, it can be easy for your company to develop a silo mentality

When your employees are chasing opposing outcomes, they become concerned only with their internal challenges and ignore the overarching goals of the company. This can lead to a host of issues from dissatisfied customers to redundant and duplicate work. 

How to unite your team towards a shared goal

Challenge #14: There’s a skill overlap in your team

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your team members is key when delegating roles for a project. Assigning employees inappropriate roles or building a team that’s too similar can result in inefficiencies and conflict.

How to build a well-rounded team

Challenge #15: The team is too big for the task

When too many people get involved with a project, processes can become unnecessarily complicated. So avoid assigning more employees to a team than necessary because this can lead to more tensions, more conflicts and duplicate work.

How to manage staff numbers

Resolve your challenges in person at an offsite retreat

Amidst the hubbub of the office, it can be difficult to identify precisely where your team is falling short.

By planning a company offsite retreat, you can dedicate time to fixing your teamwork problems without distractions. Whether you’re looking to improve company culture or develop soft skills, an offsite retreat offers you the flexibility to achieve your goals.

If you’re ready to extract the full potential of your team, reach out to Surf Office and we’ll organise your team-building retreat for you!

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