Cornwall, Devon and Somerset

13 personal reasons for overcoming team difficulties

Being on a team plagued with challenge is not generally at the top of anyone’s wish list. Working in a toxic environment is unpleasant, and it is not nice that some people feel ignored while others only think of themselves.

It is deflating to feel that the way colleagues behave, think, and interact gets in the way of good work being done. And, if you have been in this position, you will know that addressing these issues has the potential to become personally, professionally, and relationally disruptive.

So, what do you do when you know you are not the problem on a troubled team, but you fear the fall out from trying to overcome team difficulties? Would it hurt to tick the box, show up to your team development programme in body but not in spirit and keep quiet?


Would it hurt to only engage a bit?

I will start some sentences and you fill in the blanks. Make your own decision on whether it is worth genuinely engaging with team development opportunities to overcome team issues. And, feel free to adapt these sentences if needed, it is important that they work for you.

  • If people keep hoarding knowledge to serve their own needs, then in 6 months or a year the team will be …………………… and I will be …………………….
  • If we don’t find a better way to make decisions, then in 6 months or a year the team will be …………………… and I will be …………………….
  • If the way we communicate doesn’t improve, then in 6 months or a year the team will be …………………… and I will be ……………………

What came up for you? How is the status quo impacting your professional and personal development? Anything in there to motivate you?

Without appreciating what is at stake if you don’t overcome team issues, its hard to get in touch with your own motivation for bravely showing up to do the work. Without your own motivations for getting through a team development process you could find yourself retreating to safety at just the time you need to be brave and step forward.


Using motivation to help overcome team difficulties

Knowing what you want and need from a team development process before you go into it gives you a stake in the game. You will have that inner reason for wanting to be engaged in what happens. And perhaps, a reason to be open to changing something of yourself, so that you can better give the team what it needs from you to thrive.


“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”.

– Viktor E. Frankl

And, if you need, a team development specialist can help you get curious about all the motivations in the room at an individual, team, organisational and global level. And help you leverage the diversity of motivations to serve the work.

Being open to diverse motivations is helped by taking the view that it is natural and useful to have multiple motivations alive in the room. That it is part of being human for motivation to show up in different ways at different times, in a person and in a team. And, that leaning into different motivations at different times can help on the journey.


“Institutions and people almost always change their ways of doing things for more than one reason, so make different and combined appeals.”

(Malone et al., 2011)

This quote was written from the organisational perspective. But, the message that “people almost always change their ways of doing things for more than one reason, so make different and combined appeals” can be a source of inspiration for individuals too. It is a statement that encourages each of us to be open to nurturing and leveraging our own suite of personal motivations to keep us resourced on our individual and shared journey of change.

Can you imagine a moment when being in the middle of working to overcome team difficulties becomes hard for you or for others? With so much potentially in the mix, it is only natural that people have difficult moments. There is always the potential for people to become detached, find things that are said hard to be with, judge, blame or become triggered. Learning to work with conflict and difference constructively takes time, vulnerability, and staying motivated.

So, what will motivate you to stay engaged when the team development process gets hard? Do you have a standard ‘off the shelf’ source of motivation that you always turn to? Is it still delivering the goods? What if you are not motivated to overcome team difficulties, and you really need to reconnect with something that authentically motivates you?

Good news, whether you want to reconnect with existing motivations or connect with brand new ones, we have a useful exercise to help you explore what might be available to you.

Explore 13 types of motivation to overcome team difficulties

This exercise is partially inspired by an article called “What Is Motivation? A Psychologist Explains” (Souders, 2020), which is well worth reading.

There is a table below that describes 13 different types of motivation. Next to each type of motivation there is a little information and a couple of questions to help you connect with its essence, whether or not you connect with it and how it might be useful in terms of overcoming team difficulties.

As you work through the 13 types of motivation from start to finish, ground yourself. Feel into your own connection to each, notice which ones give you energy and which ones feel harder for you to be with. Also take a moment to consider the diversity of motivations alive on your team.

Make a note of sources of motivation that drive you. Reflect on when it might be useful and how you would let it shape how you engage constructively with difficult team experiences.


13 Types of Motivation Reasons to overcome team challengesQuestion
1. Intrinsic motivationFun, enjoymentHow could addressing team issues be a source of fun and enjoyment?
2. FlowPersonal challengeWhat would it be like to be completely engrossed in what you are doing? To be so present and engaged that the challenge becomes effortless, beautiful, enriching, and appealing?
3. External regulationForced to do soHow could that external voice saying ‘do it, this needs to happen’ be an ally to you as you work with others to overcome team difficulties?
4. GoalAccomplish a goalWhat do you want to achieve through this? Are there any personal or professional development goals that fully engaging with team development can help you achieve?
5. ValueHealth benefitsSpend time dreaming into what those benefits might be for you. Can you imagine reaping the physical, mental, and emotional health benefits of this team overcoming its challenges?
6. Possible selfInspirationHave you ever been inspired by a team that has overcome serious challenges and gone on to thrive? What would it be like to have this kind of team turnaround story as part of your own? What role would you play?
7. Achievement strivingsPursuit of a standard of excellenceWhat does excellence look like for you and your team when faced with team challenges? If you showed excellence in the face of team challenges (and beyond) what would that mean?
8. CompetenceSatisfaction from a job well doneImagine the feeling of shared competence that comes from being able to overcome team challenges in a straightforward, compassionate, and pragmatic way? Do you want that for you and your colleagues?
9. Opponent processAn emotional kickWould the buzz that comes from doing something outside of your comfort zone and from contributing to your team overcoming team challenges give you wings? What would you do and where could you go with those wings?
10. Positive affectGood moodFeel into how shifting the status quo will lighten and improve the mood for you and your colleagues. Could thoughts of that happy place motivate you?
11. IntrojectionAlleviate guiltCould you fully commit to team development and overcoming team challenges because it is the right and decent thing to do? Do you feel a sense of guilt for your part in sustaining the less than optimal status quo? If so, do you want to be released from that sense of guilt?
12. Personal controlRelieve stress and anxietyLearning skills that help people to effectively manage challenging situations and experiences more skilfully is core to effective team development.  How motivating is the thought of being able to handle situations that stress and make you anxious, with ease and charm?
13. RelatednessImproving relationships across the teamWhat would it be like to come into right relationship with your colleagues, even if some of the challenges the team faces can’t be resolved completely? What would it be like to know you had those relational skills?


So, what are your final thoughts as you think forward to overcoming challenges that you are facing? Do you have a fuller sense of your motivations and how they might be a friend to you on your journey? Leave a comment and let me know.




Team Development Coaching and Consultancy Devon Cornwall Somerset

Thoughts and reflections by Stephane Kolinsky, Team Development Specialist at Sky Space.

Stephane is a certified Executive and systemic Organisational coach and is accredited by the International Coach Federation. He takes clients to a place where they can take full ownership of their feelings, relationships, triumphs, and challenges.

He lives by the sea in Plymouth, Devon and over the last 10 years has worked in the voluntary, social enterprise, education, public, creative, and professional service sectors across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. He is currently the International Coach Federation Devon Chapter Group Leader and hosts regular meet-ups for coaches, and coaching curious professionals in the area.

If you enjoyed this article, let us know in the comments below and be sure to check out other articles from our team development blog



Malone, E., Sanquist, T., Wolfe, A., Diamond, R., Payne, C. and Dion, J., 2011. Evidence-Based Background Material Underlying Guidance For Federal Agencies In Implementing Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans Implementing Sustainability: The Institutional-Behavioral Dimension. [online] Federal Energy Management Program U.S. Department of Energy. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 July 2020].

Souders, B., 2020. What Is Motivation? A Psychologist Explains. – Positivepsychology.Com. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 19 June 2020].


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