Every manager dreams of leading cohesive teams that seamlessly work together to achieve company goals. But if you are a business owner or leader, you will know things don’t always go to plan. Even high-performing organizations sometimes face challenges in team building. Problems often arise caused by personality clashes, lack of trust, or role confusion, among others. The task for managers is to recognize these road bumps and get the team back on track. With strong, decisive leadership, your team will be back to working together efficiently and harmoniously in no time. This post takes you through the challenges in team building faced by most managers. And we also explore practical ways to overcome them.
9 Common Team Building Challenges
1. Lack Of Trust Between Team Members
Mutual trust between team members is the foundation to success. A lack of trust creates a toxic culture. Collaboration and communication become much harder, and the team is likely to break down altogether.
However, trust is not something that just happens. It needs to be nurtured over time as colleagues get to know each other and develop connections. And it also requires the right conditions in which to grow.
If you are the leader of a team affected by trust issues, the good news is there are things you can do.
- The leader sets the tone for how the team works, so try to avoid micromanagement. Instead, trust in the team to jointly find solutions to problems.
- Set clear roles and expectations so everyone knows who is responsible for what tasks and when.
- Display a willingness to listen and urge others to do the same.
- Promote regular communication and updates to keep everyone in the loop. This is especially important when critical deadlines or milestones are in danger.
2. Poor Communication
Ineffective or poor communication is often the root cause of project failure. A colleague that acts independently and doesn’t share information jeopardizes the whole team’s output. Similarly, poor communication from managers affects morale and leads to conflict and tension.
Nowadays, more effort needs to go into communication with distributed teams common in many workplaces. When your team members are no longer in the same building, transparent communication is even more vital. However, digital technology has made it easier to maintain open communications, regardless of location.
Responsibility for team communications rests firmly with managers. Here are some tips to help you overcome the potential for poor communication.
- Identify channels of communication and expectations from the outset.
- Top-performing companies use a combination of several channels. For example, try business IM to quickly resolve simple queries. And use weekly virtual or in-person stand-ups to track progress.
- Circulate written records of team meetings with any action points clearly identified.
3. Role Confusion
Overlapping responsibilities or confusion about specific roles causes mistrust and chaos. All this confusion threatens the team’s cohesiveness and ability to function.
To overcome the challenge of role confusion, take the following steps.
- Make sure each team member has well-defined roles and responsibilities.
- Each function should be explained in detail to the individual and shared with the whole team.
- As the manager, you then need to monitor progress to ensure members are working within their assigned roles.
4. Interpersonal Conflict
Differences of opinion and personality clashes are among the most common challenges in team building. As the manager, the golden rule is not to ignore these disputes. Sticking your head in the sand and hoping it goes away will not resolve anything. Neither is it a good idea to play the blame game of determining who is at fault.
Instead, managers should take the lead and focus on improving working relationships. Here are some tips on how to resolve interpersonal conflict.
- Seize the opportunity to reinforce acceptable and unacceptable team behaviors.
- Encourage team members to take individual responsibility and resolve their personal issues. This involves them finding a way they can work together again effectively.
- Hold regular behavior reviews so that personality conflicts don’t surface in the future.
5. Tackling Poor Performance
Inferior performance is another challenge in team building that you cannot ignore. Turning a blind eye to performance issues will only drag down the whole team’s motivation. So, don’t delay in having those difficult conversations with individuals. The following best practices will help you manage poor performance.
- Talk to the team member at the earliest opportunity. Try to find out the root cause and jointly explore possible solutions.
- Be supportive and encouraging. Identify occasions when performance has been good. And be clear and specific in your feedback when performance has dipped.
- Set clear goals, objectives, and timelines for improvement. Regularly review and monitor progress together.
6. Over Dependence On The Team Leader
As the manager, it can sometimes be difficult to let go. It’s tempting to retain control even over the most minor details. While it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing everything yourself, this mindset negatively impacts team building. Rather than micromanaging, all the best managers empower team members.
- Learn the art of delegation. Look at your own responsibilities and identify ones you can pass on to others. Not only does this free you up to focus on strategic issues, but it also develops the team’s skillset.
- Encourage the team to come up with solutions to challenges. Rather than dictating what needs to happen, all the best managers empower the team and promote autonomy.
7. Poor Work Environment
To be effective, teams must have the right tools in place. This means having the appropriate hardware and software to get the job done. It could be project and task monitoring software or file-sharing and communications via the intranet. It could also involve having a quiet place to work and meet together. And for virtual teams, it means having quality communication devices and methods, plus clear protocols to support collaboration.
The manager is responsible for ensuring the team has the optimal working conditions needed for success.
8. Ineffective Team Meetings
Unnecessary, time-wasting, unproductive meetings are a regular complaint from team members. Staff can become frustrated when their valuable time is diverted from getting on with more productive tasks. Of course, regular team meetings are vital for communication and project management. However, the following tips will help ensure your meetings are effective.
- Plan in advance. Ask yourself if the meeting is really necessary. If the answer is yes, then prepare an agenda and identify the outcomes you want to achieve.
- Practice efficient time management. Make sure the team has the opportunity to read any papers in advance, so they come ready and prepared to contribute. Keep discussions on track and summarize outcomes and next steps regularly.
- Record main action points. After each meeting, circulate meeting notes which summarize action points and individual responsibilities.
- Review your meetings regularly. Periodically, ask participants for their views on team meetings. Gather feedback on how things could be improved and implement the best ideas.
9. Lack Of Engagement
Sometimes team members can become disengaged. They may have lost sight of the team’s purpose. Or the group may have become fragmented and broken down into different factions. Bringing the team together to work cohesively again is challenging.
However, mixing things up and learning something new as a team often helps. If a lack of engagement or poor team spirit is an issue, the following team-building activities may help. The selection includes ones appropriate for virtual or in-person settings. Furthermore, these are an excellent way to break the ice for new teams coming together for the first time.
Team Building Challenge Activities
There are a number of team building activities that you can try to help promote cohesiveness as follows:
Office Trivia Quiz
Who doesn’t enjoy a quiz challenge! An office trivia quiz doesn’t require any equipment and is easy to put together. Plus, it’s a whole lot of fun and will help cement team bonds whether the team is new or needs a boost.
How it works: Team members can be pitted against each other or paired with colleagues. Devise a set of between 10-15 work-related questions. Include a mix of the silly and serious. Possibilities include the following:
- How many Marys work in the company?
- Can you name all four colors used in the corporate logo?
- What year was the company established?
- What is the CEO’s favorite ice cream flavor?
This team-building challenge is a perfect icebreaker for new teams. Storytelling allows staff to share their work experience and knowledge creatively. And it helps build trust and mutual understanding.
How it works: As a group, identify some trigger words. It could be ‘first day in the company,’ ‘partnership working,’ ‘work travel.’ Participants select a trigger word and use that to share their work-related story. For example, one colleague may relate their first day in the company. And another might use work travel to describe their work-related travel adventures.
Truth And Lies
This activity is another great way to loosen up new colleagues. And it helps rebuild vital social connections in established teams.
How it works: Team members come up with two truths and one lie about themselves. Colleagues must guess which one of the three statements is a lie. There’s no competitive element to this team-building challenge. However, it’s a fun way to find out more about colleagues, especially if players have some quirky or outlandish statements!
A scavenger hunt is always a popular team challenge. Hold you scavenger hunt indoors or outside. And it’s an engaging way to encourage collaboration, problem-solving, and teamwork.
How it works: Create a set of riddles, challenges, or puzzles. If the numbers allow, you can divide the team into smaller sub-teams and let them loose. The team with the highest number of points at the end of the session is the winner.
Challenges In Team Building: Quick Summary
Teamwork can be hard, especially with hybrid working commonplace nowadays. If you are the manager of a team facing challenges, it doesn’t make you a failure.
Regardless of whether your team members are remote or office-based, there are steps you can take. And open, honest communication is the essential starting point. Teams that communicate well understand their roles and responsibilities and what’s expected of them. They share a strong sense of purpose, connection, and team spirit.
Take early action when problems do arise. Use the tips we have outlined to tackle poor performance, role confusion, and internal conflict so that your team continues to gel and work effectively towards common goals.
And if you are successfully using a strategy not covered here, then let us know with a comment below. We would love to hear your ideas.
If you are facing challenges in team building, MyHub’s cloud-based intranets could be the solution. Our easy-to-use intranets include several integrated tools to help address common challenges. Intranets ensure your team stays on track from communications and project management to information and data sharing. Find out more with a free demo or no-obligation 14-day trial.