• 07/05/2022
  • By Kelly Wilson
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Typical Challenges to Effective Teamwork and Ways of Overcoming Them

Everyone recognizes that fact that teamwork is essential to meeting organizational objectives, especially when the tasks are complex and call for people with diverse competencies to work together. Yet, unfortunately, it is commonly observed that teams fail to achieve their goals because of their inability to achieve the expected synergies. A quick look at some of the biggest obstacles to effective teamwork and on avoiding them:

Lack of Adequate Trust 

When an individual works all by himself; goal setting, decision-making, and achieving the tasks is not a big issue as he can make the necessary adjustments without having to refer to others. However, when many individuals are working as a team, each of the members has to trust others to make decisions that will affect the performance of the team and the realization of the common objectives. The trust factor that may be weak may be further damaged when a team member makes a mistake. An environment of mistrust is extremely damaging to productivity and team spirit and can pull the organization down. However, trust can take time to develop and in the meantime, the team leader will have to show a high level of motivation and act as if the trust is already present. According to, team building requires an ongoing commitment by all.

Lack of Clarity on Goals and Roles

While some individuals perform better by themselves and others in a team environment, what is vital for both of them is setting of clear goal and objectives and complete clarity on the roles they are expected to play. If let ambiguous, goals can be a major reason for conflict within the team and affect productivity. Team leaders need to pay extra attention to role clarity of every member and individual members should also ensure that they know exactly what they are responsible for executing. According to experts at, lack of clarity on goals is a common reason for small businesses failing to survive in the long-term.

Lack of Effective Communication 

When teams are formed and the members do not know each other very well, the standards of communication can be poor, however, typically as people within the group get used to each other, the level of communication improves. To prevent teams from getting off to a slow start, team leaders and individual members should focus on communicating with each other with great clarity and frequently. It is better to ask questions and obtain the right information rather than assuming something and going off on a tangent that may be contrary to the team or organizational objectives.

Lack of Shared Identity

When teams get together, members are still thinking as if they are individuals and do not have a good idea of what the team is supposed to achieve together. Teams need to have a shared vision so that they feel motivated to achieve something important together. The group tends to look after each other, encourage productivity, and make up for each other’s mistakes to enable achievement of a common goal. Those in charge of the team should specifically lookout for symptoms of de-personalization and act quickly to build the team as a cohesive unit.

Misunderstanding Interdependence Levels 

There can be a lack of understanding regarding how closely the team members need to work with each other to achieve the stated goals that can negatively impact on the team efficiency and productivity. There are team structures that may allow each member to work independently, however, in many situations; one team member is not in a position to do anything unless he receives the inputs from another team member. There are still other team structures that may require multiple team members to work together to achieve a common goal. Such situations call for the maximum amount of teamwork, and often outsourcing any task in this kind of a setup is not feasible.

Language Barriers 

Even though English is taken to be a common language for communication, in a multicultural team, different native languages and lack of proficiency in English may be a big stumbling block. Not only can communication be misunderstood with disastrous effects but also native language speakers may feel stigmatized which can result in their unwillingness to communicate and withdrawal from the participative processes that teamwork requires. Similarly, the atmosphere within the team must be so supportive that people with English language deficiencies are not embarrassed to express their opinions freely.

Inter-Personal Conflict 

While it is extremely healthy for disagreements and discussions to take place within the group reading process and ideas, sometimes to the extremely strong personalities involved, it gives rise to personal conflicts. Such behavior spoils the atmosphere of the group and negatively impacts on the team dynamics because some members are no longer interested in interacting with each other. To prevent this from happening, it is important to share ideas and concepts, not the details and wait till the end of the conversation to evaluate what has been said and then express your opinion.

Difference in Competency Levels

When a team is made up of individuals coming from different backgrounds, it is not unusual to have people who are more skilled and contribute more to the project than the others do. Sometimes high-performing members may show irritation with the relative lack of progress made by the rest of the team members and this can result in conflicts within the team. To prevent this from happening, team leaders should ensure that the skill levels of members are as homogenous as possible and when differences cannot be avoided, members are given roles based on their skills and capability.


Building a team that performs well and allows members also to grow their talents is a skilled task. Both the team leader and the individual members need to recognize the team dynamics and the individual skills and personalities of each member and explore ways to focus the energies of all to achieving the organizational objectives in the most efficient manner. There will always be challenges that threaten the smooth functioning of the team but recognizing them in time and taking preventive action can ensure the desired productivity.

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