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Team Working: 5 Common Challenges

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Teams working well deliver better results faster than any one individual could ever hope to do. Yet challenges often get in the way of delivering the great results that are possible. So what are 5 common team working challenges and what can you do about them?

Challenge 1: Personal agendas being priority

For most of our life we are conditioned to do things by ourselves, such as passing exams, getting a college place, finding a job, securing a promotion, to name just a few. We therefore get used to pursuing our personal agenda. To get results in a team you need to create conditions where success or failure depends on the team as a whole. If the outcome can be achieved by one individual, the team will always come second.

Challenge 2: Using conflict

Conflict in teams is inevitable and conflict is not a bad thing. What is important is that conflict is productive rather than destructive. Used well, conflict can be channelled to stretch the boundaries of what is possible, encourage creativity and ultimately achieve a better outcome.

Challenge 3: Disengagement

Teams achieve more when all of the members are fully engaged and focussed on the outcome. The challenge is to avoid situations where people on the team become disengaged. Look out for signs of those holding back or not offering their views and find ways of getting their views heard.

Challenge 4: Silo thinking

This is a particular challenge where you have people in teams from different professional disciplines or functions within the organisation. It is all too easy for people to drift into analysing what it will mean for their particular discipline and to start viewing things in win-lose terms. In these situations, it is key that the benefits from the team as a collective far outweigh any benefits that could be obtained by an individual discipline or function.

Challenge 5: Lack of clarity

Achieving anything starts with being clear on what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it. As a leader of a team, it is important that the team as a collective has clarity on the outcomes and why they are so important.

Bottom line -- No team is ever challenge free, but at the same time wants to get results. What challenges are getting in the way of your team success and what action will you take to address them?

Duncan Brodie helps teams in organisations to achieve better results and sustained success. Find out more about his team coaching services at

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Duncan Brodie
Leadership and Management
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