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Barriers to Team Success

Highly effective teams can achieve extraordinary results for the organizations that they serve. Achieving success for the organization leads to greater personal success and achievement. Yet in truth, team success is not guaranteed. So, here are five common barriers to team success and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Fuzzy outcomes. If a team is to prosper and deliver results, it needs to be crystal clear about the expected results or outcomes. Too often, teams set outcomes that are fuzzy and vague, which unsurprisingly leads to little in terms of results. Make the outcomes specific and measurable.

2. Unproductive conflict. All successful teams need to have challenge and conflict, otherwise it all becomes too cozy. On the other hand, it is important to ensure that conflict is productive rather than destructive or unproductive. Lively and heated debate that actually results in a better outcome or solution is an example of productive conflict.

3. Playing it safe. Making a step change in performance or turning things around requires teams and team members to take some risk and step outside of their comfort zone. This will only happen if the culture within the organization supports and rewards this type of innovative and balanced risk taking approach.

4. Individual agendas. If a team is to prosper, all members need to sign up to and be committed to the team goals first and foremost. For many, this is particularly challenging. But, as in business, we are used to being concerned about our own individual situation. Creating a reward system that relies on the group can be a useful stepping-stone to encouraging teams to focus on the team agenda.

5. Leadership (or, rather, lack of). As with any team, someone must take on the role of the leader. The team might select a leader, or as the team develops someone may emerge who is the natural leader. However, any successful team needs a leader.

Bottom Line – Teams can achieve great results, but it is essential that the barriers to team success are identified and addressed. What barriers are getting in the way of your team’s success?

— from Duncan Brodie of Goals and Achievements