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Postcards from Scotland

Common team problems

Lack of clarity on mission, leadership and roles are relatively common and while the team can undertake some work themselves around these issues, senior management often have to spell out what they want the team to achieve and clarify roles and responsibilities.

More commonly it is the attitudes of team members and their lack of inter-personal skills which present the bigger barriers to team working. For example:

  • Team members who are convinced that their roles are more important than others’.
  • Team members who believe that they are right and others are wrong. (Why can’t he/she just see …?)
  • Team members who feel aggrieved by others’ behaviour for whatever reason but who nurse their resentment rather than getting it out into the open.
  • Team members who are insensitive and who routinely, but unwittingly, give offence.

These attitudes become entrenched and a number of practical problems then emerge:

  • Team meetings where an awkward, strained atmosphere prevails. This can take the form of silences which the team leader, or one or two team  members, fills while the rest sit unwilling to say what’s on their minds. Or meetings can be filled with barbed comments or put downs. 
  • Team members being inflexible and not trying to help or support others.
  • Team members talking about each other behind their backs rather than bringing conflict out into the open.
  • Small issues and conflicts blown out of all proportion and a sense of “pettiness” prevailing.

All these problems make it impossible for a team to work effectively together.


© Carol Craig

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