8 Common Problems Teams Encounter

Harvard Business Review’s Answer Exchange lists EIGHT problems that teams encounter:

  1. Absence of team identity.Members may not feel mutually accountable to one another for the team’s objectives. There may be a lack of commitment and effort, conflict between team goals and members’ personal goals, or poor collaboration.
  2. Difficulty making decisions.Team members may be rigidly adhering to their positions during decision making or making repeated arguments rather than introducing new information.
  3. Poor communication.Team members may interrupt or talk over one another. There may be consistent silence from some members during meetings, allusions to problems but failure to formally address them, or false consensus (everyone nods in agreement without truly agreeing).
  4. Inability to resolve conflicts.Conflicts can not be resolved when there are heightened tensions and team members make personal attacks or aggressive gestures.
  5. Lack of participation.Team members fail to complete assignments. There may be poor attendance at team meetings or low energy during meetings.
  6. Lack of creativity.The team is unable to generate fresh ideas and perspectives and doesn’t turn unexpected events into opportunities.
  7. The team is unwilling or unable to consider alternative ideas or approaches. There is a lack of critical thinking and debate over ideas. This often happens when the team overemphasizes team agreement and unity.
  8. Ineffective leadership.Leaders can fail teams by not defining a compelling vision for the team, not delegating, or not representing multiple constituencies.

*Note: For a more comprehensive look at effective teamwork, read my 2016 post, “Characteristics of a Team and Barriers to Effective Team Functioning.”


Originally posted on HBR Answer Exchange (now defunct); Adapted from the book Leading Teams: Pocket Mentor Series, Harvard Business Press



December 17, 2010

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