Top 5 Barriers to Effective Teamwork

For teams to work together successful they often need to overcome a number of barriers. The basic benefit of team is many minds and bodies working together to accomplish a common goal. Truly successful teams take advantage of the unique strengths and perspectives of the individuals that make up the group. However, often the differences themselves preclude effective communication and connection to get the very advantage that isought. The following is a quick list of combatants that teams must overcome to function together successful and some notes how to overcome the barrier:

1. Can not take in what others are saying because they say it differently.

· Have team members practice actively listening, where they repeat back what they heard. The individual who is communicating the original idea can correct the understanding and both members and those observing can see where the differences originate and have a deeper understanding of how to communicate more effectively.

2. Individuals approach things differently so they do not know where their team mates are coming from so they do not develop trust.

· Have team members work through a simple problem and document the steps that they would take to solve the problem. Then have each member review with the group how and why the approach it in their unique way. The group should see there are many ways to work through things and gain an appreciation for different approaches.

3. The process by which they make decisions is different so they can not make consensus decision.

· Decisions should not always be made through consensus but there are times when all team members need to have a say to buy in and carry the decision through. So if the team is having trouble making decisions look into that that is, challenge the team to identify why they are having trouble and brain storm on suggestions on how to improve.

4. The group is highly interdependent but they do not understand what the rest of the teams roles are, they just know that they need something from them to do their role.

· If time and skills permits, allowing the group to swap roles for a day or an hour. Often we think we know what someone else does until we are actually challenged with doing it ourselves. If time or skills do not permit, take time out of each team meeting to have individuals give a little review of their role and how they go about it.

5. The common goal is not clearly defined or bought into by all team members.

· Some people enjoy the social interaction of team so naturally adjust well to working in a team, others however would prefer to be individual contributors. If individuals do not understand the common goal they are less likely to stretch themselves to work together as a team to accomplish. Ensure the group understand the goal they are trying to achieve as a team and the benefits of working together as a team.

So to summarize the combatants that teams need to checkout are:

1. Unclear or unproductive communication

2. Different approaches result in individual being untrusting of others

3. The team can not make consensus decisions when required

4. Team does not understand their other team members roles

5. Team is not clear and bought into the common goal

Evaluate your teams effectiveness and see if one or multiple of these barriers are holding your team back from being a truly high functioning team. Take steps to correct, one at a time, too much change will just through the group into chaos.