10 common mistakes that can hinder teamwork in the workplace← Back to blog
Working with a team can be a complicated task. Almost as difficult as climbing and going down Mount Everest without a scratch. Your coworkers can turn into lifelong friends or outright enemies, unfortunately. Sometimes, we hardly notice them, but the majority of the time, that is not the case. Possibly you work very well with them, or maybe you would want to be out of their sight as early as you can.
Sometimes, and maybe too often, it might be ourselves who are to blame.Not being tolerant of others, demanding more than people can be expected to do, criticizing others behind their backs, or ignoring a certain member of the team can hinder the development of the entire project. No one is perfect and that should be the maxim to follow in the workplace. Next we will give you a series of tips regarding what you should not do if you desire good teamwork.
- Always remember this word: empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of others. Everyone can have a bad day, including you. Try to understand how your colleagues feel or why they act a certain way and you will see that everything is not so easy. Keep in mind that every person lives in their own world, and the personal situations that people go through can be very complicated.
- Ask. If you see someone who is not communicating, or is acting strangely, do not be afraid to ask and try to help. Sometimes, with a How is it going, are you doing fine today? You can find out a lot of things. You just have to decide to do it and be polite. Maybe the other person will tell you what is happening. If you don't do it, the person may bottle it up and it will end up creating tension and possibly an argument.
- Do not criticize others behind their backs. Firstly, because no one likes to be talked about behind his or her back. Secondly, because it may not work out and you will be the one who loses in the end. Thirdly, because you are an adult and you have to act like one.
- Be sincere with the team. If something seems off to you or if you do not agree with a certain proposal, let them know. To the entire team or to a specific person, it does not make a difference. Sincerity is the basis for all relationships, including work relationships.
- Today a favor for you, tomorrow for me. If someone asks you a favor, analyze it and try your best to do it. Everyone needs a hand every once in a while. Maybe tomorrow it will be you that needs a hand. So help that coworker finish that report, postpone your coffee break to be able to clear up something for a coworker that has been sick and has missed work for a few days, give that budget that you did two years ago to the current intern, so that he or she may learn. Life is a succession of people doing each other favors.
- Do not go to the boss with tales. In the schoolyard, the tattletale is the one to avoid. In the workplace the same thing happens. If you have a problem with someone, try to solve it for yourself. Keep in mind that giving excuses to your boss and criticizing everyone else in front of him or her will only bring you trouble. Bosses do not like those type of people, and the moment that other people find out (and they will) you will become like that lonely child that no one wants to play with at playtime because no one trusts him. Be very careful with this.
- Constructive, not destructive criticism. It is normal for differences to occur in the workplace. Someone thinks in one way, and another person thinks in another way. And this is the main benefit of working within a group. If something does not seem right to you, or you believe that it would be better to do it in another way, let everyone know in a tactful way. Try not to destroy the projects of others, just try to improve them and offer your point of view. Always be constructive, not destructive.
- Always give a second or even third opportunity to people. No one is perfect. Including you. People always make mistakes. Being flexible and not becoming extremely angry is crucial for good teamwork. Everyone deserves another opportunity.
- Be honest with yourself. Take some time to reflect about how you do your work or how you behave around others. Recognize your mistakes and ask for forgiveness, if necessary (if you have raised your voice, ignored someone's proposal, or if you have made an inappropriate comment).
- No one is guilty of anything. At least, until they prove otherwise. If something goes wrong, the entire team is responsible. Blaming someone only creates extra tension and immobilizes people in the face of adversity and mistakes. If someone made a mistake within the project, everyone should work together to fix it. It is possible that the person that made a mistake followed instructions that were not so clear or maybe there was a lack of communication. Normally there is not any one guilty person, so if you are not sure it is best to leave it alone.
These tips may not be the cure-all, but they will at least let you see things more clearly. As the saying goes, two people can't argue if one person refuses to argue. And that is completely correct. Put into practice these tips and you will realize that it is also everyone's responsibility for things to run smoothly.