Team members not only solve problems – they also create them. It is vital to build up loyalty between team members so that all difficulties, whether personal, work-related, or procedural, are tackled before they undermine the collective team spirit.

Instilling Team Spirit

That indefinable quality known as team spirit can be encouraged in a number of ways:

  • Let team members know why they were chosen for their particular task;
  • Establish a common team purpose and specific goals to challenge  the strengths of the team;
  • Encourage the team to communicate well, and always praise wherever praise  is due;
  • Ask your team for its advice, and then be seen to act upon it;
  • Take the time to respond in detail to reports and information coming from your team.

Identifying Problems

All teams have a latent difficulty. You want the individuals to act as a unit, but they may disagree with each other or with the direction of the team.  Ask questions to establish whether problems are localized (one or two people) or a sign of general dissatisfaction. If the morale of the whole team is unsatisfactory and therefore damaging its work, there is no alternative but to rethink your strategy, how the team is structured, and who is in it. 

Talking To Individuals

Once a problem is identified, it is an inevitable and important part of team leadership to discuss it with the people involved. This is pre-eminently a listening task – let them tell you how they see what is happening. At the same time, use your prior knowledge of them, and any observation made during meetings, to assess their attitudes and preconceptions.  What they say and what they do and feel may be different things.  Do they have hidden agenda? Are they withholding any information/or emotions that run deep? Their reactions will tell you whether their commitment to the group and its objectives is strong. If it is, they will genuinely want to find the root of the problem as much as you do, and will be happy to co-operate with you fully. If an individual blames others and plunges into self-justification, confront and question this defensive reaction.

Points To Remember

  • Personal problems between members of a team should be handled in a constructive way.
  • It is not sensible to react to any difficulties until you are sure that you know the real cause.
  • There are always new mountains for any team to climb.
  • A “blame culture” must be prevented from developing – otherwise, it will kill team spirit.

Dealing With Problem People

After you speak to people causing a problem within a team, further action may be needed. Be positive, and search for any common ground for which to start rebuilding relations. Are roles within the team unclear, causing overlap of responsibility? Is the workload fairly distributed, or are certain individuals feeling overburdened and stressed? Experiment to find solutions to the problems, but remember to act in good time. You must remove people from a team if you find that their disruptive behavior persists after all avenues have been explored.

                                                  Do’s And Don’ts

Do tell the team about how you see a situation.Don’t persist with impossible people.
Do try to see a problem from your team’s angle.Don’t lose your own temper with any members of the team.
Do use the problem as a lever for change.Don’t lose sight of the team’s purpose.
Do be positive when handling problems.Don’t hesitate to call on outside help where you feel it is necessary.
Do tackle problems head on, rather than delaying your action.Don’t cause more problems by ignoring tensions in your team.

Dealing With Conflict

Head-on personal conflict between team members soon becomes a problem for the entire team. Address such situations as soon as they arise. Offer one or two team members the opportunity to tell you, in confidence, what they perceive as the root of the clash, and explore ways of defusing the situation.  How many people are causing the conflict? Is one individual behaving badly? Has the team become divided? If so, insist on a truce between the warring parties. Is your management at fault? If so, talk to team members to see how you can redress the situation. The object of the exercise is to improve behavior, not parcel out blame and criticism. Do not rest until a solution has been found and agreed by all. 

Using A Problem to Log

Regard work-related problems as opportunities for team learning and improvement. Enter the issue in a log, and allow all team members access to the log so that the lessons learnt can be shared. Select an individual to resolve the problem, and give them the necessary authority and resources. Ask for a plan of action and regular progress reports. Record these reports in the log, noting any problems and the final resolution.


  1. Treat everyone in the team equally to avoid causing any resentment.
  2. Regard disruptive team members as innocent until they are proven guilty.
  3. Telling individuals they are doing a good job will build team morale.
  4. Always treat team members with respect, even those who may be creating problems for you.
  5. Avoid direct conflict with team members.
  6. Remember to be tough on the problems, not the people.
  7. Ensure that the whole team is able to learn from solving problems.



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