Barriers to Team-Building & How to Overcome Them


A team is only as good as its leader. Even the best leader has to confront problems that may seem insurmountable. The leader must sometimes serve as both coach and counselor to overcome barriers to teamwork that so they are not allowed to fester and get worse. Figuring out what's working and what's not is an integral part of team-building.

Problems of Style

  • All members of a team have their own styles in how they do assignments and how they present to the team and to the outside world. Unfortunately, even the most intelligent members of the team will not be effective if they show up late or sloppily dressed. One way to overcome this barrier is to assign teamwork in pairs, blending dispirit styles so that they complement instead of irritate each other.

Personality Conflicts

  • Barriers to teamwork that go beyond problems of style usually involve personality conflicts between individual team members. Some people just do not like each other. They will never be friends but they can learn to work together if their conflicts are addressed in time. But if personalities on a team that tend to grate on each other are left without guidance, their differences may become so intense that they poison the whole team. A conflict resolution expert should be consulted immediately.

Too Many Cooks

  • The adage of too many cooks spoiling the broth is as true in teamwork as it is in the kitchen. A fine restaurant requires a chef, just as an orchestra must have its conductor. And a team cannot be truly great without a manager, a supervisor or a coach to call the shots. Otherwise, it's just a bunch of people doing random things and having meetings from time to time to report what they've been doing in their own little vacuums.

Eyes on the Prize

  • One of the biggest barriers to teamwork is individual ambition. Although each member brings unique talents to the team, all must focus on common goals if the team is to succeed.

    The team leader, coach or supervisor must be selective in choosing members, players or staff who show a cooperative spirit and a desire to be part of a group effort. Show-off or obstinate behavior will work against the team's cohesion.

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