The challenges of working in a team
Simply put, working in a team means collaborating with other people to achieve a common goal. This, of course, presents several benefits. For starters, working together in a project ensures that work is completed on time, hitting deadlines much easily. What’s more, a team pulls together people with different talents and skills, making problem-solving easier and enhancing creativity and innovation.
On an individual level, working in a team allows you to portray and exercise your strengths. You also get to learn from others, which enhances your skills. Working with others also sharpens your communication and leadership skills. But working with different personalities is not without some challenges. Here are some of the challenges of working in a team and how to avoid them.
1) Security Risk
Working in a remote team is great in terms of allowing freedom and flexibility. But you have no control over where the rest of the team members work from. It is not uncommon to find people working in libraries or coffee shops, connecting work devices to the internet over public networks.
While they might be intending to save a few coins on their internet costs, they compromise the security of each member’s devices. You see, connecting to a public network without a VPN allows malicious people to see what one is doing over the internet. It then makes it easy for them to infect the device with malware. If such an employee shares an infected file with the team, their devices are infected as well.
Solution: Be sure to advise your team members to connect to public networks through a VPN. Moreover, not just a VPN, they need one that is reliable, easy to use, and one that doesn’t slow down the internet speed. With an easy-to-use interface and around the clock customer service, NordVPN makes a good choice for a quality VPN. (Take a look at this NordVPN Review for further consideration)
2) Unclear roles allocations
Roles are divided among the team members and each individual with his or her own responsibilities. The problem sets in when the roles aren’t explained clearly, leading to the overlapping of roles. This is further worsened when it takes a lot of time to realise, only to discover that some people worked on other people’s roles or some roles weren’t worked on at all when it is too late. While it is easy to think that responsibility for such failures is shared, you are affected negatively when the team’s reputation is tarnished.
Solution: It is important to seek clarity on your role and that of others before embarking on a project. Also, make it a point to check on the progress of others regularly in the course of the project.
3) Lack of purpose
For team members to feel motivated and connected, it is important to understand what the team is working towards. You are more likely to enthusiastically put in the efforts and time to realise the greater goal when you know the purpose of the team. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Most teams start well, only to lose the purpose in the course of the journey.
Working in such a team can be very difficult. Connecting with other team members becomes a struggle since you have drifted away from what brought the team together. Worse still, most members result in simply doing what they are needed to do without the extra efforts to grow the team.
Solution: Teams need to stay focused on the big picture at all times. If you feel like the team is drifting away from the purpose, initiate discussions towards the same
4) Different capabilities
As said earlier, a team brings together differently talented and skilled individuals. While this overall workplace diversity should be meant to complement each other and enhance the team’s performance, sometimes the opposite happens. Some more skilled people feel like they are being exploited by the rest of the members, which causes conflicts in the team.
Solution: Team’s roles should be divided according to people’s capabilities. However, it is better to be inclined towards helping the rest if you are more talented.
5) Different personalities
While there are dedicated, respectful, and hardworking individuals, others are the complete opposite. They are the know-it-alls of the team, they will be quick to blame others for the team’s failures, take undue credits, slack off in their work, and refuse to be corrected, and so on. Such individuals make working in a team frustrating, demotivating, and disengaging.
Solution: Changing people’s personalities can be difficult, but a little guidance goes a long way. It also helps to do your part and to avoid such actions getting to your heart.
6) Lack of Trust
Trust is the cornerstone of any successful relationship and is especially important in teams. An absence of trust can be a recipe for the failure of a team, as it hurts productivity, develops a toxic culture, and prevents communication. It also saps team members’ morale, which eventually hurts your company’s bottom line.
If you still don’t think that trust has a massive impact on teamwork, then you need to check out Google’s Aristotle Project, in-depth research on teamwork. The study concluded that trust is the bedrock of an effective team.
Solution: Teams are made up of humans. So to ensure effective human interactions, you must focus on building trust. Trust is tied to emotions and developed over time. As a team leader, you should provide opportunities for team members to interact and cultivate meaningful relationships at work and beyond. One option is to create a communal space where team members can eat lunch socially.
7) Unclear Goals
Lack of clear goals is among the most common causes of conflict among team members. If your goals are ambiguous, you’ll never be on the same page with your team members. Everyone will be working on individual goals, not the overall team’s goals. This scenario can hurt the productivity of your business.
Solution: Put your team members into consideration when coming up with goals. Communicate regularly and effectively with your team and ensure you’re clear about what you want to achieve as a team.
8) Low Self-Awareness
When some of your team members have low self-awareness, they usually display traits such as rebelliousness, speaking ill of others, disrespecting their leaders, and being opposed to feedback. These traits are more prevalent in today’s workplaces than you’d imagine. In fact, Harvard Business Review discovered that 95% of individuals believe they’re self-aware, but in reality only 10-15% of these people are self-aware.
On top of being frustrating, un-self-aware team members lower a team’s likelihood of success by half. Other negative effects of having unaware team members in your team include stress, reduced motivation, and high employee turnover.
Solution: If you have established that one or a few of your team members have low self-awareness, you should take time to evaluate whether they can be assisted. Consider their intentions and whether they’re ready to change. If they are willing to change, have a face-to-face conversation with them. Take your time before bringing up their traits of unawareness.
In fact, you can wait until they express their sense of disappointment or unhappiness. Reaffirm your support and find out how you can help them overcome those feelings. One effective way to help your team members to regain their self-awareness is to encourage them to practice mindfulness. You can even invite someone knowledgeable in that area to help them do it the right way.
9) Poor Communication
Effective communication is a critical component of any successful project. If a colleague handles their responsibility as an independent one, then communication shuts down. Without clear communication from the team leader, the project flow is affected.
Solution: Hold meetings regularly to talk about the project’s progress. Discuss the challenges team members are facing and how you can help as a team leader. These meetings will provide a space for the voice of team members to be heard. They’ll also help you assess their level of communication.
10) Unresolved Conflicts
Conflicts are unavoidable in our personal lives and teams. Team conflicts arise because teammates sometimes disagree or don’t know how to cooperate and collaborate regardless of their differences in personalities, work styles, and task management. When conflicts are left unresolved, tensions tend to build up between the conflicting parties.
Over time, the conflict could become embedded in everyday work and could affect relations. It could also cause a decline in overall morale and productivity.
Solution: When you notice a conflict between team members, you should address it immediately. Helping them reach a mutual understanding fosters collaboration and enhances productivity. As a team leader, you must continually sharpen your conflict resolution skill. That way, you’ll easily identify signs of conflicts, recognise differences, and come up with an immediate and peaceful resolution.
11) Poor Work Environment
An unfavorable work environment can negatively impact a team’s morale and may result in poor motivation and lack of satisfaction among team members. It may also cause a decline in productivity and poor performance.
Solution: Provide your team with a comfortable workplace that promotes collaboration and knowledge sharing. If you’re leading a remote team, you need to involve members in choosing the right virtual tools for communication, project management, task monitoring, and file sharing. You should also set up a dedicated virtual collaboration space for your remote team.
Competent teams confidently share regularly and open-handedly so that everyone can benefit and whatever they are working on can become successful. This fosters the capability of the entire team to grow and provides the team with more power.
12) Poor Leadership
The success of any team is hinged on its leadership. Poor leadership can adversely impact team morale and even hurt the company’s bottom line. It also results in poor retention and even the remaining team members tend to be less motivated and less productive. Signs of poor leadership include lack of team chemistry, ineffective communication, high employee turnover, lack of vision, micromanagement, and so forth.
Solution: You must give your team a sense of direction. By offering guidance to the team and holding members liable, the team will gain morale and momentum. Keep track of the team’s performance and provide support as required. Try to be present in all team meetings. And when you’re away, be sure to pick a team leader. Inform the team about the appointed leader and be clear about their role to avoid competition for the position from other members.
Disengaged team members cause disruption and frustration within your team and business at large. Even actively engaged workers can suffer a decline in morale if the level of engagement of the entire team drops. A few disengaged team members can have a massive negative impact on the workplace.
Laying off disengaged staff members is a false solution. Most of these workers have valid excuses for their disengagement and it’s your duty as a leader to help them find a long-lasting solution to their problems. According to a Gallup study, employees mostly feel discontented and disengaged due to a lack of training, opportunities for professional development, and stagnation in the same job positions.
Solution: By offering training, opportunities for promotion, and a room for professional development, you can cultivate a stronger sense of loyalty within your team members. This strategy will go far in improving your employee engagement statistics, reducing the overall loss of time and money, and eventually fostering company growth. If you want to enhance productivity, boost customer satisfaction, and elevate your profit margins, then you must invest your time, effort, and resources toward nurturing engaged and motivated team members.
Working with people who are different from you can be very challenging. It is even worse when you can’t find a common ground, resulting in a bad experience with the team. That is why it is important to join a team with an open mind. Besides doing your part, commit to being a team player and helping others out. It doesn’t matter whether you are a leader or not in the team. If the team fails, you fail as well.