Common Team Problems

In today’s organizations, people work in teams that have either a leader or a self-driven team member to lead. While these teams provide support mechanism in the office environment and are used to improve productivity and results, they are also a source of competition. It is this team building scenario that is envisioned to promote the productivity of the employees, and at the same time the organization. In any team there is a difference of opinions, this is beneficial as it provides the building blocks to ideas for their team and organization as a whole. At the same time these opinions do raise the emotions and feelings of the team players. There arises conflict within the group that either improves the team’s performance or the breaks down of the team and consequently hampering the achievement of the organizations goal.

The most common team problems are;

  1. Floundering: This problem occurs in the teams which are having trouble starting or ending a project or different stages of the project. Solution to this state are to look critically at the improvement plan, review the mission statement, determine the cause of the holdup, and have each member write down reasons and discuss them at the next meeting.
  2. Overbearing participants: These participants have an unusual amount of influence in the team. They usually have a passion of authority or a particular expertise. Teams need these abilities; however, it becomes detrimental when they discourage discussion on their expertise and discount other member’s ideas. Solutions are to reinforce the ground rules, talk to the person off-line and ask for cooperation, and enforce the importance of data and the problem-solving method.
  3. Dominating participant: They like to themselves talk, use overlong anecdotes, and dominate the meeting. Members get discouraged and find excuser for missing meetings. Solutions are to structure discussion on key issues for equal participation. Talk to the offending person off-line, and have the team agree in the needs for limits and a balanced participation. In addition the leader may act as a gatekeeper by asking questions.
  4. Reluctant participants: They feel shy or unsure of themselves and must be encouraged to contribute. Problems developed when there are no built-in activities that encourage introverts to participate and extraverts to listen. In addition to structured activities, solution includes dividing the task into individual assignment and acting as a gatekeeper by asking questions such as, “ what is your experience in this area?”
  5. Unquestioned acceptance of opinions as facts occurs: When members assert personal beliefs with such confidence that other members think they are facts. Solutions are to request data and to follow the problem-solving method.
  6. Rush to accomplish: It is common to teams being pushed by one or more members who are impatient for results. Teams must realize that improvements do not come easily and rarely overnight. Solutions are to remind members that the ground rules call for the problem-solving method or to confront the rusher off-line and explain the effects of impatience.
  7. Attribution: This is the activity of guessing at a person’s motives when team members disagree or don’t understand his or her opinion or behavior. Solutions are to reaffirm the importance of the problem-solving method, question whether this opinion is based on data, and find out the real meaning of the problem.
  8. Discounts and “plops”: These things arise when members fail to give credit to another’s opinions or no one responds to a statement that “plops”. Every member deserves the respect and attention from the team. Solutions are to reinforce active listening as a team behavior, support the discounted member, or talk off-line with members who frequently discount, put down or ignore.
  9. Wanderlust: Digression and tangents happened when members’ loss track of the meeting’s purpose or want to avoid a sensitive topic. Discussions then wonder off in many directions at once. Solutions are to use a written agenda with time estimates, write meeting topics on flip charts or redirect the conversation back to the agenda.
  10. Feuding team members: This can disrupt an entire team with their disagreement. Usually these feuds predate the team and are best dealt with outside the team meetings. Solution are to get the adversaries to discuss the issues off-line, offer to facilitate the discussion, and encourage them to forms some contract about their behaviors.

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