Handling Problems and Challenges in Teams

Even the best teams will encounter problems from time to time.  It might be, for example:

  • A lack of enthusiasm.
  • The feeling that there is nothing that can be done and it is all hopeless.
  • People not understanding what is trying to be achieved.
  • People sweeping difficult stuff under the table in the hope that it will go away.
  • Cynicism and mistrust.
  • Talking behind people’s backs.
  • Finger pointing and blaming others.
  • Mediocre performance from one or more members of the team.


In these challenging situations, it is easy to lose control as the leader and the snowball to become an avalanche.  So what can you do when you are faced with problems?

1.                  Go back to basics.

Teams often forget or lose sight of their core purpose.  Going back to basics and re-focusing everyone on this can lead to new insights and solutions being identified.

2.                  Go for small wins.

Everyone likes to see success, no matter how small.  As a leader, you can create opportunities for small wins by breaking things into smaller chunks and setting these goals.  As the team starts to see progress, it pushes the team to do more.

3.                  Inject new information and approaches.

New facts, different perspectives and new information all play a major role in overcoming obstacles.

4.                  Take advantage of training.

Sometimes it can be really useful to see how others are tackling the types of challenges you are facing.  It gives you fresh insights and can act as a catalyst for moving forward.

5.                  Don’t ignore the problem.

If there is a problem then don’t ignore it and hope that it will go away.  Be ready to deal with problems.

6.                  Re-affirm agreements or standards.

They might not be written down but chances are that in your teams there are agreements around what is acceptable and is not acceptable.  It may be necessary from time to time to re-affirm these standards.

7.                  Create an opportunity to get issues out in the open.

Sometimes as a team leader the issue is not with what you know, it is what you don’t know.  If these are issues, create an opportunity for these to be discussed openly and constructively.  As well as creating the opportunity to get issues aired, make it clear to the team that you want to reach solutions to move things forward.

8.                  Follow up on agreed actions.

Sometimes team leaders stop at the point of agreeing actions.  Create accountability by agreeing how and when actions will be followed up.

9.                  Seek support.

It is always worth having a network of people you trust and can bounce ideas off.  Speak with these trusted people confidentially and test out your ideas.

Bottom Line:  As the team leader or manager, you need to find the right balance in handling obstacles.

Goals and Achievements help healthcare organisations deliver great performance through teams.  Learn more here.