Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Top 5 Challenges Impacting Teamwork

A healthy and positive working team is at the heart of most successful projects. Creating such a team begins with the individual well versed in the art of building relationships, and who understands the value of each team member.

But winning teams also face challenges. Being aware of the most common issues hindering teamwork and damaging positive working relations is a vital component of effective team management.

To get you started, we have identified the Top 5 Challenges Impacting Teamwork and putting a business at risk:

1. Changes in Staff (down-sizing) - When layoffs or turnover lead to the down-sizing of staff the impact is felt by all those who would otherwise "team" with those lost individuals. Staff not only experience a heavier workload, but may be asked to take on more responsibilities. They will have to re-establish their way of getting the job done, while suffering the loss of any friendships they've built.
Creating a sense of teamwork is an essential step to rebuilding the strength of the team.

2. Changes in Staff (hiring) - Not unlike down-sizing, adding to the team frequently causes employees to experience diminished teamwork. Adjusting to new personalities is only the start. Changes in responsibility if tasks are re-assigned and the inevitable concerns of being replaced may lead to lower levels of cooperation and create challenges for maintaining business functionality. As new lines are drawn, staff must adapt to the changes in their team.

3. New Project - A new project requires that the right group of people, with the right body of knowledge and the right amount of direction are working in harmony together. With such tenuous factors at play, how well the team functions is both a measurement of their individual strengths and their interpersonal compatibility. If flaws in their relationships emerge, teamwork issues will undermine the success of the project.

4. New Business Partnership/Alliance - Much like a new project, establishing an alliance or partnership necessitates the forming of a new team, but with the added challenge of assembling participants together who have independent goals or purposes. Creating a healthy level of cooperation and collaboration requires that participants establish deep levels of trust prior to beginning their joint venture.

5. Team Alignment - The most common struggle with teamwork comes not from change or upheaval, but from the routine problems that have yet to be addressed or which have proved difficult to resolve. Issues with team alignment can be recognized by the ineffective staff meetings, the department with a divided staff, and by the team members who point fingers of blame when a deadline is missed or a project goes awry. A cohesive and united team is distinguished by their natural level of cooperation, collegial attitude towards other members of their team, and by their ability to reach goals and meet deadlines.

As with any relationship, maintaining a healthy team is an on-going activity.

When working with teams, you don't get to check a box and say you're done or walk away once you've re-established a level of stability. You can however enjoy the benefits of your effort. By addressing teamwork issues you will notice staff become happier and more cooperative; turnover and complaints become minimized; and productivity and growth, which had been hampered by these issues, can finally be maximized.