Teams – 5 Barriers to Team Success

Highly effective teams can achieve extraordinary results for the organisations that they serve. Achieving success for the organisation leads to greater personal success, and achievement. Yet in truth, team success is not guaranteed. So what are 5 common barriers to team success and what can you do to avoid them?

Barrier 1: Fuzzy outcomes

If a team is to prosper and deliver results, it needs to be crystal clear about the results or outcomes that are expected to be delivered by the team. Too often teams are set outcomes that are fuzzy and vague which unsurprisingly leads to little in terms of results. Make the outcomes specific and measurable. For example, reduce waste from product X by 10% by 31 December 2008 is both specific and measurable.

Barrier 2: Unproductive conflict

All successful teams need to have challenge and conflict otherwise it all becomes too cosy. On the other hand, it is important to ensure that conflict is productive rather than destructive or unproductive. Lively and heated debate that actually results in a better outcome or solution is an example of productive conflict. Challenge that focuses on all of the negatives without offering any alternatives is unproductive.

Barrier 3: Playing it safe

Making a step change in performance or turning things round requires teams and team members to take some risk and step out of their comfort zone. This will only happen if the culture within the organisation supports and rewards this type of innovative and balanced risk taking approach. For example, if the culture is to look for scapegoats when things go wrong, people will keep within the safety boundaries rather than taking a chance.

Barrier 4: Individual agendas

If a team is to prosper, all members need to sign up to and be committed to the team goals first foremost. For many this is particularly challenging as in business, we are used to being concerned about our own individual situation. Creating a reward system that relies on the group can be a useful stepping stone to encouraging teams to focus on the team agenda.

Barrier 5: Leadership

In teams someone has to take on the role of the leader. A team without a leader is like a ship without a captain. The team might select a leader or as the team develops someone may emerge who is the natural leader. However, any successful team needs a leader.

Bottom Line – Teams can achieve great results but it is essential that the barriers to team success are identified and addressed. So what barriers are getting in the way of your teams success?