Clearing the Path: The 4 Biggest Obstacles to Teamwork Success

Group of people on peak mountainGreat teams can accomplish amazing feats—assuming they’re adequately equipped to handle the occasional obstacle along the way. There are many reasons why even the closest-knit teams can fall apart, but if you’re informed about the potential pitfalls from the beginning, you’ll be better prepared to address these four obstacles to teamwork success.

Communication barriers
The most important component to great teamwork is communication. It’s the crux of every aspect of successfully working in a team and achieving goals together. In fact, in a recent Refresh Leadership poll, we asked readers to vote on the number one reason teamwork fails—poor communication was the top choice. From individual personalities to confusion about strategies and goals, there are many opportunities for communication barriers to arise that could easily derail any progress a team has achieved.

Everyone’s in it for themselves
The oft-quoted, time-honored expression stands true—there is no “I” in team. By definition, great teamwork involves more than a single person working toward a common goal. When personal agendas get in the way, the probability of a team successfully reaching a goal starts to dissipate. Although it is important to present—and even defend—your point of view to the group, being overly stubborn and unwilling to compromise or consider others’ ideas can bring a team’s forward momentum to a grinding halt.

No clear leadership
General Colin Powell said, “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” Teamwork is a towering task, without proper guidance it’s easy to veer off course. Team leaders not only have the responsibility of pointing the group toward the right target, they’re also charged with keeping the peace and maintaining order along the way.

No common goal
Nothing rallies the troops and builds camaraderie better than a common goal. Teams that have a mutual interest in success have the best chance of achievining it. Without a clear path toward a unanimously agreed upon goal, individual priorities or misunderstood strategies can take precedent and send team members on separate paths that may or may not result in reaching the original goal.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to overcoming teamwork obstacles. It’s up to the team leader and individual members to pinpoint their issues and quickly address them in a way that clears a path toward success. Check out these Refresh Leadership articles that touch on several different important characteristics of great teams.

What are some of the biggest obstacles to teamwork success you’ve experienced? How did you overcome them? Let us know in the comments section below.

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