What are the barriers to teamwork and how to overcome them?

Collaboration is the key to producing great work across all industry sectors. In various sectors, where the industry environment has grown highly competitive, companies are focusing on team work and collaboration to grow their growth rate and become successful. Teamwork is also considered essential to achieving fast paced innovation. Leaders across organizations strive to achieve higher collaboration and grow the level of teamwork inside their organizations. However, achieving a higher level of collaboration or inspiring teamwork among all members is not an easy task. Leaders need to understand the various obstacles to teamwork that can become a hindrance.

There exist various types of barriers to teamwork, which can make it challenging for employees to collaborate successfully. Collaboration requires employees to work together, form successful relationships with co workers, maintain trust and work towards a common goal.


If these elements are not there and for example, the level of communication and trust between employees are low, the team will experience several barriers that will make teamwork impossible. However, it is not impossible for leaders and managers to eliminate these barriers. Understanding these barriers and eliminating them will help companies bring a higher level of collaboration organization wide.

Some common barriers to teamwork and how to overcome them:

There are several kinds of barriers that make teamwork and growth challenging for businesses. Some of the most common barriers faced by businesses across various industry sectors are listed here:

  • Lack of strong and effective leadership:

Leadership has always played a very important role in guiding their team members and helping them work together towards the achievement of a common goal. The role of leadership in this regard is critical and bigger than everyone else inside the organization. Leaders provide their teams with a focus and give them the direction in which they should work to achieve the common goals. They also work to motivate the employees and establish a culture that inspires people to come together and work for reh advancement of the company. It is why effective leadership is an important prerequisite to achieving a higher level of collaboration inside organizations. Leaders can provide the necessary motivation to help people work to achieve the common goal. Ineffective leadership fails to bind people together. Such leaders also fail to incentivize collaboration inside organization. Good leadership focuses on incentivizing and rewarding collaboration. Their influence on the employees is also critical to achieving higher level of collaboration.

  • Confusing goals and objectives:

Leaders must set clear goals and objectives for the entire organization. Setting smart goals and objectives helps the employees know what they are working for. When people are working with a clear sense of direction and with clear goals in mind, it is often easier for them to collaborate. Team leaders and managers must set clear goals and objectives for the team. Shared goals are important to achieve a higher level of collaboration throughout the organization. Otherwise, without clear goals and objectives, teamwork will remain difficult and employees will find it impossible to collaborate with others.

  • Communication Gap:

Communication is also a key element to achieving a higher level of collaboration throughout the organization. Proper communication helps align people and teams and their efforts towards shared goals and objectives. Communication is also the key to connecting with team members and working together. However, many times leaders and managers fail to understand and manage the flow of communication inside the organization. Communication gaps also hinder work flow and prevent people from collaborating. Apart from helping team members communicate with each other through various channels, managers must communicate with their team members regularly to understand what barriers are preventing collaboration and keeping them from achieving more.

  • Lack of trust among team members:

Another key thing that managers and leaders must care about when trying to improve the level of collaboration inside their organizations is to focus on managing trust among employees. When the level of trust among team members is higher, the level of teamwork is also superior. Employees must learn how to manage better relationships with their colleagues and collaborate with them. All of this requires a higher level of trust among team members. When the level of trust among team members is higher, teamwork happens automatically and the output level if also better.

  • Lack of incentives for teamwork:

Managers and leaders must also incentivize teamwork to foster a higher level of collaboration among team members. Rather than rewarding only individuals, managers must create policies that reward teamwork and highlight the achievements of individual teams. They can also link financial incentives for individual employees with team performance. Usually, it works as a good motivation for employees to focus on teamwork. Managers and leaders must also communicate with the team leaders to learn about things that motivate their teams to achieve more. When leaders incentivize team work using both financial and non-financial incentives, it encourages collaboration at an organizational level.

  • Large size of teams:

Collaboration is also related to the size of the teams. Often when the teams are of very large sizes like consisting of 20 or more people, collaboration becomes difficult for team members. Therefore, managers must break larger teams into smaller teams. When the teams are small like consisting of six or fewer members, it is easier for the team members to collaborate. Communication is also better among team members, when the team is smaller in size. Apart from it, the opportunities of interaction among team members also grow with smaller team size. If the team size is too large assigning responsibilities can become challenging for managers. It is why leaders and managers must restrict the number of members in each team to less than seven to avoid the barriers that crop up from team size.

  • Poor conflict resolution methods:

Managers and leaders must also focus on establishing a good conflict resolution system inside the organization. Inside the larger organizations especially it becomes important for managers to focus on managing conflicts. Conflicts can arise any time when there are several teams working together towards common goals. They must also teach individual team members how to manage conflicts.  It will also help improve the level of collaboration among team members organizationwide.

  • Lack of an organizational culture of collaboration:

While all the above listed barriers hinder team work, none of the solutions will have a lasting impact without an organizational culture that fosters collaboration and innovation. Leaders must focus on creating an organizational culture that fosters creativity, innovation and collaboration. Culture is an important element on which the success of the entire organization rests. However, companies that want to successfully improve the level of teamwork must first find out the problem with the organizational culture. If teamwork is not an important pillar of the organizational culture, then companies will not be able to successfully encourage the employees to collaborate.  Leaders must focus on improving the organizational culture to improve the level of teamwork inside the organization.

A few last words:


There are several barriers that can obstruct teamwork inside organizations. From a lack of strong leadership to the lack of proper communication channels or absence of trust among team members, there are several barriers that can hurt teamwork. However, the solutions are not so difficult to implement. For example, an astute leadership will focus on establishing a culture of creativity and collaboration. It will also focus on incentivizing team work to encourage their employees to work collaboratively. Communication gap can also hurt teamwork and productivity of organizations. Managers and leaders must communicate regularly with employees to know about the problems and concerns that might be hindering teamwork. They must also set clear goals and objectives for their employees so that the employees are not confused and can work with clear goals in mind. While teamwork can improve the productivity of the entire organization, if managers and leaders fail to take note of the barriers that obstruct collaboration, it will continued to hurt organizational performance.