Common hindrances to teamwork and how to overcome them

Common hindrances to teamwork and how to overcome them

Apart from the composition of a team, there are many factors needed in order for it to be effective. Some common hindrances to teamwork and how you can overcome them are listed below.

An overemphasis on hierarchy and red-tape.

  • Genuine teamwork does not focus on level, hierarchy or status.

Reward structures that are not team-oriented.

  • You get what you pay for – if you want teamwork, you must reward it. Exhorting team effort while rewarding stars will get you more stars. Most organizations reward individual success, making real teamwork extremely difficult.

Unhealthy conformity.

  • It is important not to stifle individuality and healthy conflict in the name of teamwork.

  • Avoid ‘groupthink’ by rewarding openness – thank people for bad news and for disagreeing with you. Frowning and being defensive about your views will turn teamwork into conformity.

Lack of openness.

  • This openness does not mean one should go to the other extreme of accepting endless discussion.  Genuine teamwork reduces isolation and makes change less frightening.

Lack of ongoing self-assessment.

  • Effective teams use a process to review regularly how they are doing.

Too many generalists and not enough specialists.

  • Team members contribute specialist knowledge, but they should be encouraged to be generalists in the way they behave in the team – at different times leading, enhancing harmony, and generating new ideas.

Low emotional competence.

  • Good leaders understand how team members differ in terms of their personalities and hidden agendas.

Perpetuating a team environment that is dysfunctional.

  • 5 Dysfunctions of a team according to Patrick Lencioni are:

  1. Inattention to Results

  2. Avoidance of Accountability

  3. Lack of Commitment

  4. Fear of Conflict

  5. Absence of Trust



One of the marks of a great team is self-assessment. If you are a team leader or part of a team a great way to benefit from this is to pass this on to your team members and use it in a meeting to identify your team’s current hindrances and what can be done to overcome them.