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Plays of the Month: How to tackle common teamwork challenges

Kristen Roth Atlassian Team Jan 25, 2022

Teamwork has never been more important than it is right now. And good, effective teamwork? That comes from teams made up of people with diverse skill sets and backgrounds who approach and view the world differently. While differences are essential for top-notch teams, they can present a few challenges, too.

At Atlassian, we’re no strangers to the challenges of teamwork, and we’re always eager to share the struggles we’ve encountered and how we’ve attempted to fix them. Here are a few issues you may have noticed within your own teams, their warning signs, and what to do about them:

  • There’s a lack of trust

    • ⚠️ Warning sign: Team members aren’t communicating, being authentic, or taking risks.

    • 💡 What to do: Establish Working Agreements. Create a list of expectations for every team member so you can work together successfully and avoid misunderstandings. 

  • Team goals seem to be unclear

    • ⚠️ Warning sign: People are optimizing for different things or jumping from project to project.

    • 💡 What to do: Pause your work and get on the same page. Use an exercise like Project Tradeoffs to help your team agree on what to optimize and employ the OKR method to avoid confusion while setting goals.

  • Personality conflicts

    • ⚠️ Warning sign: There’s a tense vibe within the team and debates heat up quickly.

    • 💡 What to do: Have the team get to know each other better and learn how to effectively work together by sharing Personal User Manuals. These include sharing communication and feedback preferences, as well as what each person needs from the team to be successful.


Now we'd love to hear from you: What are recent team challenges you’ve faced at work? How were you able to overcome them?

18 comments

Andy Gladstone Community Leader Jan 26, 2022

@Kristen Roth great article. 

A recent challenge that we have had, as mentioned elsewhere in this community, is finding the time to meet as a team. With the turn of the calendar to 2022 and a full product roadmap, combined with more demands on our time to meet via Zoom, we are having a hard time coordinating TEAM time. TBH we have not solved the problem yet - and everyone is performing well - so it’s been a nice to have and not a need to have. My fear is that culture will erode without the FaceTime. 

Like # people like this
Kristen Roth Atlassian Team Jan 27, 2022

Totally hear ya here, @Andy Gladstone. I wonder if incorporating a little bit of "non-business" time into your already-existing meetings might be a good way to keep those friendly team connections going. Maybe a quick, fun icebreaker question to kick off your team meetings? 

Like Andy Gladstone likes this

Hey @Andy Gladstone

How are you and the team doing some time later? Has anything changed? Have you had more FaceTime? 

Tips & tricks :-)?

KR,

Wouter

Andy Gladstone Community Leader May 16, 2022

@Wouter Bruinings the struggle continues. No progress, yet.

Still performing well?

Hi @Kristen Roth 

   First challenge to team up on a new project, with each of the remote team members in different locations and generate that atmosphere of trust, team, harmony and commitment on the part of everyone to move the project forward, in the end we succeeded and now we are a cohesive, strong, united team and to go from work we also have times to have fun and enjoy 15 minutes a week just to laugh and talk about trivial non-work things

Cheers

Like # people like this
Kristen Roth Atlassian Team Jan 27, 2022

So glad to hear this, @Vero Rivas! 🙌

Like # people like this
Ajay _view26_ Community Leader Jan 28, 2022

Thanks for sharing the wonderful post @Kristen Roth !

With remote working its all the more important that all the mentioned challenges are addressed for getting the team from good to great 😀

Like Kristen Roth likes this
Kristen Roth Atlassian Team Jan 31, 2022

Thanks for giving it a read, @Ajay _view26_! For sure. Remote teams can absolutely be great teams, too!

Nice examples, thanks for the information @Kristen Roth 

Like Kristen Roth likes this
Pramodh M Community Leader Jan 31, 2022

@Kristen Roth 

My thought on this would be

Don't get intimidated by others, rather if you feel empathy & have friendliness, sharing things, the above-mentioned things are obsolete

Like Kristen Roth likes this
Kristen Roth Atlassian Team Feb 01, 2022

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, @Pramodh M . I agree that a little empathy and friendliness go a long way!

Like Pramodh M likes this

Very good article. The suggestions are really good.

Like Kristen Roth likes this
Srinatha T Atlassian Team Mar 22, 2022

Thanks for sharing the article @Kristen Roth 

Karthick S Atlassian Team Mar 25, 2022

Good one @Kristen Roth with efficient solutions for the problems!

Darryl Lee Atlassian Team Mar 28, 2022

I would like to call out the importance and the essentials for one of the Atlassian Values, Open Company No Bullshit, which helps build up strong trust amongst everyone on the team.

Like Kristen Roth likes this
Srinatha T Atlassian Team Apr 04, 2022

@Darryl Lee  Agreed. 

I struggle with time zones. As a team over several continents it's really difficult to find times and overlap to meet. This leads to lack of communication.

Like Andy Gladstone likes this

This is definitely a challenge, but I think async bonding is still possible. Just harder, for sure!

Like Srinatha T likes this
Connor Rising Star Jun 21, 2022

With a fully remote workforce I find maintaining communication with my co-workers challenging.

Summer.Hogan Community Leader Jun 30, 2022

Great article! Thanks for the advice! With a fully remote workforce and never having met any of my coworkers, I am shocked at how I have gained relationships with my team and gotten them to trust me. 

Okan Erdogan Community Leader Jul 20, 2022

Great post! I'll certainly follow the steps and make sure we're all on the same page!

Craig Nodwell Community Leader Jul 20, 2022

Great suggestions, will try to incorporate the steps listed to help 

Sakina Rising Star Sep 07, 2022

great Suggestion!!!

thanks for sharing the information @Kristen Roth 

Its really helpful for remote work nature we are presently going through.

Our team is scatterred world wide but everyday we meet in scrum call which builds teamwork

Vikram P 

Dave Mathijs Community Leader Nov 07, 2022

Hi @Kristen Roth , your answer reminds me of the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

Summary:

  1. Absence of trust
    The fear of being vulnerable with team members prevents the building of trust within the team.
  2. Fear of conflict
    The desire to preserve artificial harmony stifles the occurrence of productive ideological conflict.
  3. Lack of commitment
    The lack of clarity or buy-in prevents team members from making decisions they will stick to.
  4. Avoidance of accountability
    The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding one another accountable.
  5. Inattention to results
    The pursuit of individual goals and personal status erodes the focus on collective success.
Like # people like this
Sayed Bares Community Leader Nov 10, 2022

Thanks for sharing @Dave Mathijs , I will give it a read

Thanks for the reminder @Dave Mathijs 

I think with all said, Individual mindsets play a vital role to tackle this thing.

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