Dealing with Difficult Teamwork Scenarios at the Office


By and large, in the era of collaborative work, most everybody agrees that working as a team is a wonderful asset for any company, no matter how big or small. After all, save for the lone freelancer burning the midnight oil away on a solo project, our entire informational framework is designed around the notion of cooperation. However, not all is rosy at all times; oftentimes, working within a group comes along with a specific set of challenges. Today we explore dealing with difficult teamwork situations, in an attempt to identify the best ways of addressing them. At best, teams drive innovation forward, provide environments which are highly conducive for creativity, and can deliver the most optimal strategic solutions. At worst, they are a mess. Let’s now focus on how to encourage the former and dodge the latter.

Apply the KISS principle in dealing with difficult teamwork scenarios

Now, the KISS principle (short for “keep it simple, stupid”) may not have any scientific basis, but it has definitely been tested out empirically, time and time again. This definitely rings true when we’re talking business processes. What usually happens when such a process is devised is that everything emanates from one person alone, but then goes on to be propagated into the organization. As several of its members chime in with their take on the process, it tends to get unnecessarily complicated and ultimately inefficient. It’s not easy to simplify a process back to its core, as this involves the fine art of reverse engineering. However, through reorienting it toward goals, tweaking it and piloting it, one may eventually revert it to a more practical form.

Focus on goals, not on pleasing everybody

Perhaps one of the most daunting aspects of dealing with difficult teamwork situations is the need to please. This is, after all, a universally human need; however, in office settings and collaborative work efforts, it can prove disastrous. Accept that you cannot please everybody all the time and focus on meeting some clear-cut goals. The author of Teamwork Is an Individual Skill, Chris Avery, posits that each member of the team should be aware of the hands-on reasons for which that team exists in the first place. What has it set out to do? What is its reason for existing, from every individual member’s point of view? Avery goes on to suggest that dissenters will eventually abandon the goals, if they feel misrepresented within the team. As such, the best way to address this is to make sure that the team’s goals are rephrased as to suit everybody’s needs, skills, availability, and demands.

Rational, segmented, achievable goals

The top reason for which dealing with difficult teamwork becomes even more difficult in time has a lot to do with expectations. Some teams are fully aware of their goals, only there are so many of them, so widespread and far between, that they no longer believe those goals can be achieved. If you find yourself in this type of teamwork scenario and feel you get to have a say in the process, suggest that those goals which are not essential be eliminated, postponed, or altogether abandoned. There’s no point in holding on to a goal which will only turn out impossible to achieve, as the only thing it will accomplish is to demoralize the team further.

Understand the shifting dynamic of teams

In plain English, teams are made up of people. People change with time and also adapt themselves differently to different situations. A group of people which worked well at one time, within a specific set of circumstances and toward a given goal won’t necessarily work as well in another scenario. Accept this fact and try to align a team in which all members are suited for the tasks they’ve been assigned, and in which everybody is on the same page about the tasks at hand.

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