There’s the saying, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” But what happens when challenges arise? How can you continue to make that “dream work”?
Since collaboration can make up nearly 80 percent of a person’s role in an organization, it’s crucial to focus both on team interaction and the possible conflicts that can occur. The key is to anticipate potential sources of conflict in a team setting and address those challenges in a way that stimulates productivity, innovation, and improves morale.
Through surveys and interviews, CMOE has identified three common team challenges in the workplace and solutions to overcome them.
1. Lack of Trust
Trust is the glue that holds a successful team together. Teams bonded by trust know each other professionally and personally, and they take the time to help each other.
When a team lacks trust, there is often:
- A lack of transparency: Team members may keep client or company updates and information to themselves instead of sharing them with the team. Or they may form inner circles within the team where select members are privileged to the information. This could lead to further animosity among team members.
- Low camaraderie and morale: Team members feel isolated from each other when there is no trust. As a result, team communication and camaraderie suffer.
- Low engagement: Workforce members may not feel motivated to do more than the bare minimum or perform to their full potential. They may resist change and avoid participating in team and broader organizational activities.
The key to building trust is to build a sense of safety and community:
- Have regular, productive team meetings: Have team meetings where individuals are able to feel safe sharing their values, concerns, and ideas. As a team leader, start by sharing your thoughts first to create a friendly and talkative environment. This will show team members they can share their thoughts and opinions too, and you will help build trust and openness. Aim to help the team find common values and goals. Highlight them and build a team purpose statement. Show that you’re working together.
- Invest in team activities: The more people know about each other, the more trust can be built. Schedule team outings, lunches, or other engagement ideas to help build camaraderie. Solicit ideas from the team and choose activities that are most likely to keep the team engaged and connected.
2. Conflict and Tension
In our experience, most conflict and tension stems from two sources:
- Differences in opinion: People bring various backgrounds and experiences to the team, so they may have different opinions or priorities when considering how to make certain decisions or approach various situations.
- Different personalities: In a recent study, nearly half of all employees surveyed responded that they believe personality differences are the primary source of conflict in the workplace.
Help your team members overcome conflict and tension by encouraging them to be open about their viewpoints while simultaneously holding space for and considering the merits of others’ opinions. Conversations can be confrontational and caring at the same time. Team members can be coached to express their ideas while regulating their emotions. Encourage team members to be assertive in their approach and help them thoughtfully communicate their concerns and work as a team to find a solution that everyone can commit to. Let these five stages of conflict resolution guide you.
3. Uncertainty in Roles and Responsibilities
There’s a distinct difference between working individually and working collectively. Shared responsibilities may be challenging to take on, especially for those who do not have extensive experience working collaboratively with others.
Progressing without a clear understanding of everyone’s roles and responsibilities may cause confusion and disorganization within the team. As a result, some people may inadvertently end up working on the same task, while other vital tasks may be overlooked entirely.
Tackle this uncertainty head-on by:
- Outlining and defining roles and responsibilities: Explain them verbally in team meetings. Afterwards, document and distribute the information (where needed) in writing to ensure team members have something to refer to.
- Having frequent check-in meetings: Check-in as the situation dictates to understand how the team is doing. Team members will have the opportunity to report on progress, voice any concerns, and address any confusion. Expectations can be clarified and actionable steps can be taken to ensure success.
- Establishing a healthy feedback loop: Communication should be a two-way activity. In the event of conflicting thoughts on a role or task, open a dialogue about it so that all members feel heard. Encourage team members to share their thoughts and concerns. Have your team provide anonymous feedback and discuss those notes as a team.
Explore CMOE’s Teamwork and Team Development Solutions
Team members who are connected by common goals and a deep sense of responsibility can certainly make the “dream work.” As their leader, it’s important to continue to develop and build your teamwork skills and strategies to unlock opportunities for growth and success.
For further guidance, we encourage you to look into CMOE’s Teamwork and Team Development solutions—a portfolio of team coaching programs and tools designed to help you overcome common team challenges.