Working in a team

We all work in a team – whether it’s a formal one in a large organisation, or a more individual one involving family members. A team can also involve other departments in your organisation, other businesses, suppliers and even clients. We look at some of the problems teams face and the solutions to overcome them.

Many self-employed people who work on their own might think that teamwork does not come into “my working life”. However, no individual can be successful completely on his or her own.

Here are some of the common problems in teams:

  • Lack of rapport – Team members and/or the manager and their team have no connection with each other. Rapport is the very foundation of any working relationship and, without it, communication and teamwork are very tricky.

Solution: You can take action on a day-to-day basis to start to build rapport with others through enhancing your interactions with each other.

  • Personality clashes – Often in a team you need different personalities as they bring different perspectives and skills to the team. However, they can also result in clashes if people do not understand the personality differences and learn to use and appreciate those differences.

Solution: Learning more about each other’s personality types can help the team to draw on each other’s strengths, learn to spot and compensate for weaknesses in personality types.

  • Poor communication skills – If team members and/or the manager do not know how to deal with issues in a constructive ‘Adult to Adult’ manner, then conflict or miscommunication can ensue.

Solution: It might be that the team needs to learn how to communicate more from the assertive Adult mode, rather than slipping into more unhelpful ways of communicating. If you are the manager, model this kind of behaviour and coach teams members to enhance their communication skills.

  • Game playing – Eric Berne’s first book on Transactional Analysis was called Games People Play. Most people are unconscious of the games that they play with others; however, they can be very destructive in the workplace.

Solution: Transactional Analysis is a great way of understanding more about the interactions that we have with others.

  • Scapegoating – It seems to be that there is often one person who becomes the scapegoat in a team. Any problems within the team are either overtly or covertly blamed on them. Which often lets the other team members off the hook in terms of shouldering some of the responsibility for the team’s issues.

Solution: It is far too easy to blame the person who is a challenge to work with for all of a team’s ills. Recognise that scapegoating is a natural process in any group or community, but that does not mean it is OK to do it. Catch yourself if you are starting to do this. Be honest with yourself as to your own or others’ role in any issues that arise.

Team development programmes