Wageman (1997) describes a team as a group of people focused on achieving similar goals and objectives for the benefit of their clients and customers while delivering good quality of service.2 Teamwork can be said to be the process of working collaboratively with a group of individuals to achieve a set target.
Teamwork is as old as mankind. Even in the time of creation, God applied the concept of teamwork when he said, “Let us make man in our image” (Gen 1:26 KJV). This statement connotes that God engaged the heavenly bodies in the making of man.
There is a growing consensus among researchers that although organisations can get work done using individual talents, its super achievement is getting goals accomplished via teams. It is a well-known fact that teamwork is not only the foundation of all successful managements, but the means of improving overall results in organizational productivity.
The workplaces of today have employees that are focused on achieving goals as individuals as opposed to achieving them as a team. However, with today's digital world, studies have shown that organisations that accentuate teamwork innovate better, make and correct mistakes faster and generally attain higher productivity overall. Wageman (1997) states that company goals get achieved when the workers perform as a team combining their skills with efficiency.3 Organisational productivity, which entails an organization's capacity to produce maximum output while keeping inputs low has been a researchable issue for professionals over the years.
Dorgan (1994) describes productivity as higher functional and organizational performance including work quality while using minimum efforts.4
Some researchers hold the view that teamwork is a driving point for improving a firm's productivity. For instance, Ulabor et al (2020) agreed that team building makes a significant impact on organizational productivity, and it is a way for success to be achieved in an organization.5
This article intends to shed light on the possible disadvantages of teamwork on organisational productivity and how they can be managed.
Possible Disadvantages to Teamwork
Many of the businesses today are moving towards more creative workspaces that encourage collaboration and teamwork. For all its positives there are some disadvantages to consider. Understanding what works for your organization is recommended so that you can maximize satisfaction and productivity.
Ahemed Ansary (2019) gives the following as reasons why teamwork might not impact positively on organizational productivity:6
Even when a team is perfectly balanced in terms of skill sets, personality conflicts can arise over time. For example, people with outsized egos or an independent streak seem to be more challenged working with a team and prefer to work solo most of the time. You can have a case of teammates trying to impose their knowledge, procedures, and processes in getting a project done which may stall the collaborative process.
Even in the case when workload is evenly distributed, some people will not be active and this forces other people in the team to shoulder additional tasks and responsibilities. This can lead to resentment within the team.
It can take more time
When a team is involved, processes can take a longer time. Teams require more coordination, and feedback. Decisions become more difficult to make as many people are involved in the process.
When a single individual is given an assignment, the responsibility for failure is obvious but for a group it can be somewhat difficult to find out who is at fault especially when team members tend to blame each other.
Employee evaluation problems
It is more difficult for managers to determine the strengths and weaknesses of individual members when they must continually handle assignments as a team. If the team is successful, everyone gets praised without clearly identifying the level of individual contributions to the assignment.
Communication skills in a team needs to be very high for the team to work effectively. Communication breakdown may become common and result in inefficiencies and lack of trust among team members.
People with a dominating personality will tend to impose their opinions on other group members, depriving others of the opportunity to contribute as well. This can lead to a feeling of not being appreciated or valued.
There are certain approaches that organisations can employ to ensure higher levels of success in teamwork.
Firstly, consider the personalities and working styles of individuals who are part of the team. Compatibility is important. If you place people with similar working styles and schedules together, you are more likely to create moments of cohesiveness.
Furthermore, you can consider assigning people to specific roles within the team to prevent the issues of leadership or dominating personalities hijacking the process. Make sure that every member knows their place on the team and their specific duties.
Finally, consider using the groups for training whenever opportunities arise. Combining expertise with new ideas is a great blend that can lead to great results.
Teamwork can be stressful. Conflicts can arise and some people can be more dependent on others, while some may not be given credit for their work but when managed properly with defined roles the results can be truly amazing.
1 Temitope Fadare, Personal Assistant to the Managing Partner, SPA Ajibade & Co., Lagos, NIGERIA.
2 Wageman, R (1997). “Critical Success factors for creating Superb Self- Managing Teams at Xerox”, Compensation and Benefits Review, Vol 29, Issue5, pp 31-41.
3 Wageman, R (1997), ibid at pp. 18-20.
4 Dorgan, C (1994). “Productivity link to the indoor environment estimated relative: from ASHRAE 62-1989”, sin proceedings of Healthy Buildings, Budapest Hungary.
5 Ulabor, E. Akande, S. & Abiodun, O. (2020). “Investigating Impacts of Team-Building and Organisational Leadership on Corporate Productivity: Case Study of Selected Employees in Osun State Nigeria”, Research gate Publication, Vol 22, Issue 10, pp 2-3.
6 Ahmed, S.A. (2019). “Advantages and Disadvantages of Teamwork”, available at: https://www.careercliff.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-teamwork/. Last accessed on 24th November 2021.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.