9 Barriers to Effective Teamwork

Humans have the gift of communicating with each other like no other species. The lack of this skill can put a dent into effective teamwork. Let’s find out how. 

We, humans, are the most intelligent and advanced animals that walk this earth. Our entire species evolved the standards of living by learning ways to co-operate and communicate. 

At the workplace, managers try to build strong bonds of trust and interdependency between team workers to improve communication. It is necessary to have effective team communication to increase efficiency at the workplace. 

A competent business is one which is capable of withstanding the challenges of economics. Effective communication is of utmost importance to build a reliable team to overcome those challenges. Only a business capable of fostering proper teamwork has the potential of serving its customers right. 

Effective team communication facilitates smooth working, and can eventually be the difference between the company selling an idea and missing out on a potential life-altering deal. ( Also read : The Value of Teamwork in the Workplace )

Collaboration would always come with invisible barriers of clashing opinions that would block effective teamwork. This eventually hampers productivity.

Let’s know more about these so-called invisible barriers hindering the workers from partnering effectively to achieve their desired goals.

9 Barriers to Effective Teamwork

The following pitfalls can lead to failure in achieving organizational success, if not remedied in time:-

  1.  Shrugging off one’s’ duties

If you are running a team, duties are to be equally distributed and shared by all. Of course, the load can be different as per your position and skills, but the responsibilities are shared. 

If any person shirks their share of effort, others have to work extra to make up for it. This results in a lag in their own work as they either won’t be able to complete it, or the quality would be compromised due to divided focus. 

That’s where negative feelings towards one another breed. The failure to establish clear grounds for accountability for individual effort, plus the added resentment affects the productivity and efficiency of the team.

  1. Dominating behavior by a few members

Dominance is generally associated closely with abuse of power. Such power may be inherent due to strong personalities or skills, or completely external like the one which comes with your position in the organization.

When a certain person tries to suppress the voice of others or the others feel unheard or unwelcome, they might stop making efforts due to a lack of interest.

This extends the idea of negative feelings towards co-workers and weakens the bonds of trust in a team.

  1. Lack of trust

When you work as a unit, all members must trust the instincts of each other. It is then that the best of every individual comes out. Because what lack of trust does is, it makes one feel hesitant to bring out their ideas.

One person’s hesitation to share an idea could be a huge loss for the entire team. Maybe you come to realise later that that very idea could have made the difference.

The hesitation could be due to lack of self-trust, or maybe negative feelings towards a certain team member. Whatever the reason might be, the end result is inefficiency and loss of productivity.

  1. Conflicts — the pits on the road

When people interact, there are bound to be disagreements. It is just how the world works. Every person is built differently and hence has his/her own way of getting things done. These disagreements become conflicts if they are not dealt with efficiently in time.

While conflicts bring out the best of every team member on the table due to a thirst to prove they are better, they may also result in hateful and negative opinions about the teammates. Such feelings hamper teamwork and efficiency.

If not dealt with properly, conflicts evolve into major ego hassles and delay progress, and put a bump on the road towards productivity.

  1. Lack of skills

While every team worker desperately tries to keep the engine running on full steam by using team communication as an effective fuel, there are a few who even after their cent percent effort, aren’t able to catch up.

Yes, agreed that all members in a collaboration can’t possibly have the same skill set, but the difference in skills causes conflicts. Employees might not be reading the same book, forget about being on the same page.

These are unlike regular misunderstandings and can hit the progress badly. Poor team compositions often lead to troubles in achieving the goals, higher costs, decreased efficiency, and increased risk and workload.

  1. Poor leadership

It is rightly pointed out by Elisa Mendzela, in her paper “Effective Teams” for The CPA Journal, 1997, “An effective team cannot compensate for a poor manager”. 

Powerful leadership and vision are the foundations of a successful enterprise. Every team needs someone they can look up to. There has to be someone to assign and delegate responsibilities.

Leadership is important for bringing out the best of every team member and maximizing effective teamwork. A leader who fails to manage the team efficiently is the reason for the team not functioning at their full potential.

  1. Too many cooks spoil the broth

Sometimes having too many hands to help might be the reason behind slower progress. The team size must never be too large as more people would obstruct effective communication.

More people would mean more brains and more brains create a complexity of opinions and a barrage of plans and ideas. Coordination becomes much more complicated with a larger group, directly impacting teamwork, communication, and strategy.

If the number of members is not limited, then a lot of time would be wasted in conflict-resolution rather than actual work. Such large groups force poor decisions and choices.

  1. Long meetings

Long, unfocused meetings usually push employees towards losing interest in the topic of actual importance. Effective collaboration hits a dead-end if the members lose interest and enthusiasm.

Such meetings and interactions divert the focus from the actual strategy by lowering employee morale and disrupting their work-rhythm. Teamwork becomes dream work only if the focus remains intact.

  1. Lack of clarity

Every individual needs to be absolutely clear about their roles in a team. This is the job of the leader. There must be clarity on not only the roles of individuals but also the goals, both long-term and short-term.

Every plan, strategy, and duty must come with concrete designs and ideas for execution. Nobody wants to be shooting in the air without knowing the ultimate target. Whenever in confusion, always clear all doubts.

Why does Effective Team Communication matter?

When a person works in an organization, it is important to establish strong ties of reliability and trust to keep the scoreboard of progress ticking. Team members must be able to count on co-workers in a team, which eventually results in effective teamwork.

But how to build that trust? Naturally, this is where team communication comes in. Employees talk more than they usually would for others to understand their ideas and point of view. The objective is not just to express their thought process, but also to show what kind of people they are.

Effective team communication acts as scaffoldings for quicker progress, more efficiency, and increased productivity. The collaboration becomes smoother and a fun work culture is developed. 

Innovation is born out of unshackled and stress-free minds. With innovation come new strategies and plans. The route towards the goals is mapped out. In other words, effective teamwork is directly proportional to effective communication — the better the communication, the better the teamwork.

How to achieve this ease of team communication? In our previous blog, 5 tried and tested steps for effective team communication, we have discussed broadly some steps for effective team communication that might come in handy in a professional environment.

8 Measures to Improve Team Communication

After establishing the importance of effective teamwork and team communication, it becomes necessary to find ways to improve team communication for the collaboration to become smoother. 

Here are a few that we find helpful:-

  1. Have clarity on ideas before communicating them

The person initiating a conversation must be clear in his head about the idea or thought he is willing to share. An unclear message can always be misinterpreted.

It is better to be absolutely clear and sure before uttering a single word. Arranged thoughts and streamlined ideas are conveyed better.

  1. Communicate according to the receiver’s capability to interpret

As weird as it sounds, it is important to know how much can a certain person comprehend from someone’s message. 

The message should always be conveyed not according to a person’s own capability, but as per the listener’s capacity to interpret it.

This makes sure that nobody feels left out and helps in building stronger bonds in the team, improving productivity and efficiency of work.

  1. Consult before communicating

Taking suggestions from people a person communicates with is a great idea. This makes them feel important and helps a person get a better idea about the thought process of all the members of the team.

These suggestions and discussions help frame the proper plan for an organized method of brainstorming. 

Picking every person’s brain in the team develops teamwork and spirit. Communication in the team becomes more goal-oriented than before.

  1. Mind the language, tone, and content of the message

Make sure that  someone’s sentiments and feelings aren’t hurt. Being polite, respectful, and open to criticism are great qualities to possess. 

Keep the content to the point. Make the message brief and simple. Simple language and polite tone make the message easier to comprehend.

Easier comprehension in turn means faster response and increased efficiency. This also develops a positive work environment and culture.

  1. Ensure proper feedback

The purpose of feedback is to know if all members are on the same page. If someone hasn’t understood something properly, his/her feedback makes it convenient for others to know the issue.

If an employee doesn’t receive feedback on his own, he must make sure to ask for it. You don’t want even a single member to feel lost. This would hamper teamwork.

  1. Follow up communication

“I have conveyed the information and my job is done!”. That’s not how it works. No matter if a person is a leader or a member, taking follow-ups is a good resolve.

Follow-ups ensure that the efforts are going in the desired direction. The management must always try to find if there are any issues with the communication system. 

They can try to take inputs from others on how to improve team communication, for avoiding any delays and misunderstandings.

  1. Be a good listener

If someone wants to be heard, he/she better be a good listener. Paying attention to what others have to say is always helpful. Having patience and a positive attitude towards other people’s words could teach a person a lot of things.

This would create a healthy work environment and allow innovation and ideas to bloom. It would drive the company to the road of success.

  1. Use good Team Communication tools

Nowadays communication is not just limited to the physical presence of a person. Virtual team communication tools are on the rise. An employee can interact with his/her co-workers while being physically unavailable.

Thanks to the pandemic, tech-giants latched on to the opportunity to develop effective team communication tools to make remote working more interesting and efficient.

Such tools include Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Skype, Ubblu, Slack, etc. These platforms existed previously too. But the pandemic created a rise in demand of more such tools.

Unlike our competitors, we at Ubblu are more focused on creating a distraction-free team chat experience. Team workers can connect and collaborate with their co-workers comfortably without interruptions. This results in effective teamwork.

Conclusion

Team communication is the backbone of effective teamwork. If a proper system of exchange of information is in place, the organization can comfortably climb the ladder to success.

This is where effective team communication tools become important. We are living in unprecedented times and the need for clean team interaction apps has been on the rise.

The perfect team communication tool would be the one that’d be clean, easy to use, and loaded with features.

We can only wait and watch how quickly the tech industry strikes the perfect balance. Till then, the traditional methods are handy enough to get a person through work stress.

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