At one time or another most of us are required to work with others on a project.
Everyone from children in elementary school to professionals in IT jobs know how rewarding it can be to work with others, but also how challenging, and even frustrating, it can be at times.
Advantages of Working in a Team
There are many advantages of teamwork. We’ve all heard the phrase “two heads are better than one.” Of course with more minds set on a specific goal, you have access more ideas. Looking at things from the perspective of others can increase the likelihood of quality innovation.
Teams create an environment of support and propel people toward implementation. A team environment can boost the confidence of individuals, allowing them to do their best work.
Good teams make the most of individual talents. Where one member may be weak, another might be strong and working together they provide the perfect resource for an organization. The more people work together, the more they learn and step away to become better workers in their own jobs. Teams can create better communication and respectful relationships among employees.
Disadvantages of Working in a Team
For every advantage of working in a team, there is the flip side. Just as “two heads are better than one,” we’ve all heard, “too many chefs spoil the soup.”
Basically, there are just too many people, too many ideas, and too many “experts” to come to an agreement and achieve a good result. It is simply why we have to constantly be reminded that there is “no ‘I’ in team.”
When people can’t leave their egos behind, conflict and resentment arises. People become unwilling to open their minds to other perspectives and are intent on either forcing their point of view or not cooperating with others. The more conflict, the less innovation, the farther the team gets from implementation and meeting goals.
While a team has the potential to boost up the individual members, if it is not functioning properly it can make some members feel inferior and unimportant. They contribute less and are discouraged from accessing their strong qualities. How much each person is contributing or not contributing becomes the focus of the individuals – some feeling they are carrying the team, others resenting those who are taking charge.
Relationships and communication worsens. The team is unsuccessful and the individuals walk away worse off than when they started.
What Can You Do to Ensure a Successful Team Environment?
Most of us can say we’ve experienced being on both types of teams. Here are some tips for maximizing the advantages of teamwork.
For the Manager:
If you are a manager who is forming a team you should set clear, specific expectations and have a dialogue with your employees to be certain they understand these expectations. It is important that they not only understand the goals, but also the reason the team has been created. A good manager will allow a team to function without hovering over it, but will be fully involved by eliciting information on a consistent basis, rather than waiting for the deadline to evaluate the results.
Communicate with your team, evaluate performance and commitment, and step in to assist when necessary. The team may very well need additional resources or input from you.
For the Team Member:
If you have just been assigned to a team, take the time to listen to others in the group. Be involved in the process, as there will be a process that sorts out responsibilities and leadership roles (whether official or not), but open your mind and realize teamwork takes patience, understanding, and mutual respect and support.
Yes, you want to be supported by the team, but this can only happen if you support others. The first step in being a successful team member understands your mission.
If you are given or volunteer for a particular role, understand your role and own it! Make the decision to be a problem solver. Do not look to place blame and do not focus on the negative. Stand up and make things better, rather than sitting back and complaining.
You will feel good about yourself and help the team by making it better for everyone. A negative attitude can be contagious….but so can a positive one! Constantly practice tolerance and keep communication open with all members of the team and management.
It is often a team victory we rejoice in and remember above all others. The team environment can be very rewarding and a team’s success does depend on you, the individual. Your commitment to your team, despite obstacles, is vital to its success.
Lynn Mattoon is a Content Editor and Career Writer for Beyond.com career community. You can follow her on Twitter at Beyond Careers.