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Every person at one time or the other may have the experience of working in a group, be it while the person is in college or while at work.
There are many instances in life that may have called for teamwork . At the same time, on some other occasions, it is the choice of the person to opt for teamwork or to work individually.
Both have their own positive and negative points. This article tries to give an idea about the advantages and disadvantages of working in a group .
Getting Work Done: In Groups and Alone:
Different people have different ideas regarding the work to be done. There are few people who would like to work alone, whereas few prefer to work in teams.
The best way to solve such a situation is to assign the right task for everybody accordingly.
As a coin has two sides, working individually and working in a team both will be having their own advantages and disadvantages.
Let us take a look below to find a few pros and cons of them.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Teamwork:
- Teamwork helps in increasing collaboration and has a scope for brainstorming, which results in getting more ideas. Therefore you can see a growth in productivity.
- To solve complex problems and to complete difficult tasks, the team works better than an individual.
- You can improve your skills while working in a team, as a team will be having people with different skills and abilities.
- Teamwork helps you improve your communication skills .
- While working in a team, conflicts might occur in case when one person works less than the other.
- When working as a team, a lot of meetings need to be scheduled. But in case if not handled properly can result in loss of time and decreases the efficiency of the team.
- Decision-making process will be prolonged and delayed.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Individual Work:
- You need not depend on others and also can decide things independently.
- No interference from others and extra meeting so you can focus on your work and complete it faster
- You will be the one who is responsible for the work done, you don’t have to share the credit with others.
- You are the sole person for the work, so you can’t blame others when things go wrong.
- To get the work done at times, you need to motivate yourself.
- There are chances of getting bored as you will be working independently, all alone.
- At times if you are sick and not able to do work, the whole work gets delayed as there will be no one to complete it on your behalf.
Problems Associated with Group Work:
Here we will be discussing a few common problems, which group members face when the work is not done effectively while working in a group.
- Missing deadlines by not completing tasks
- Difficulty in getting started
- No discussion is done as a team
- Members not contributing
- Ineffective communication
- Conflict between team members
- Dominating personalities
- Inability to focus on the task
Why Work in Groups?
Working in a group is an effective and powerful way to learn, and is highly relevant to the work type and workplace.
Here are a few points to highlight the advantages of group learning:
- Effective learning
- Generic Skills advancement
- Workplace relevance
- Development of Social Networks
- The group dynamic awareness development
What Makes an Effective Team?
Some of the tips that help your team to become effective are
- Different skilled employees working together effectively
- Understanding and committing to goals
- Have a clear idea about the tasks to be done
- Maintain a balance between task and process
- Providing a supportive and informal atmosphere
- Comfortable with the disagreement of opinions
- The discussions are taken together
- Criticism taken in a positive manner
- Learn from the experiences
Advantages and Disadvantages of Working in a Group:
Advantages of working in a group:.
One might opt to work in a group, due to many reasons. What one needs to see is what works best for the job as well as for the person.
So if you are confused about why work in groups or positives or advantages of teamwork then here are some points on the positives and advantages of working in a group.
1. More Productive:
It is been found that one of the main benefits of working in a group is that it helps to raise the complete output.
If working in a group, everyone works together making use of the best of their skills to make sure of quality output.
It will also guarantee that there has not been any compromise on the quality of the production, whilst working as a team . This is one of the best benefits of team working.
2. More Resources:
One thing to realize is that more the number of people that joins the group, the resources also increase alongside it. This is one of the pros of teamwork.
For example, as more people are added, the total ability of the person also increases. Other than the skills, the experience of each new person is as well added to the group.
If the person is working individually, he will not have the support from the other people in the group.
3. More Reliable:
One good thing about working in groups is that if in case someone is not keeping well or if they miss the work for some reason, the job can still be done properly and efficiently by the rest of the people in the team.
Since working in a group there are people who are aware of what’s happening at work. This is not possible if a person is working alone or individually.
If one works in a group, they can also ensure that the ideas or suggestions, which are not at par, are rejected at the very beginning. This is one of the benefits of group work.
4. Learn Things:
It is seen more often that, people in a group can go on to learn new things from the others. They get the option to learn from each other.
All people while working in groups have their own ideas, from which another person can learn so many things.
On the other hand, when one is working individually , they have to do things on their own. You do not have the time to learn anything from anyone else. Learning new skills is one of the benefits of group work.
5. New Method:
When working in a group, each one gets the opportunity to come out with their own ideas and suggestions, thus paving the way for new methods on how to complete the job properly.
Each one can work towards the success of the work. Since it is a large group, there could be quite a few of the suggestions or ideas by some of the people that are innovative and novel, which could help the job to complete successfully.
6. Information Exchange:
While working in a group, everyone gets the opportunity to communicate with others well within the group.
Each idea or suggestion, whoever it is by is considered and thoroughly discussed before the group arrives at a conclusion.
Hence, we can find that the flow of conversation or communication is smooth and effortless within the people of the group. This contributes a lot to the success of the job, given. This can also be called as group discussion .
7. Team Commitment:
When one is committed to working in a team, the person can go on to encourage and support the performance as a group.
A person, totally dedicated to the job at hand and to the team, will also make sure to be present to do the job. This is known as total team commitment .
Disadvantages of Working in a Group:
Now there are also disadvantages of group work as working in groups would not work out for the best, all the time.
Trying to get people in a group to work together is very strenuous and also takes up a lot of time.
At the same time, if everyone comes together to work towards success, there is nothing better than that. Here are some negative points of working in a group or disadvantages of group work.
1. Unequal Participation:
It is quite possible that while in a group some of the customers may not do that much work, while others may work hard. This inequality in the work done could cause trouble between the people in the group.
It also causes bitterness amongst the members of the group, because some may be getting acknowledged for a work that they have not even done at all, while others may have strived hard to get that honour. Jealousy, in such a scenario, is without a doubt inevitable.
2. Intrinsic Conflict:
When a wide variety of people start to work in a group, disagreement is sure to arise between people in the group.
Each person may have their own ideas which could conflict with what the other person has to suggest. Some people in a group might also find it difficult to accept suggestions or ideas from another person. This conflict could as well put a stop to the flow of work until the issue is resolved.
3. No Individual thinking:
While working in a group, there is no place for individual or independent thinking . It is by no means a one-man show.
It is more of a group effort to complete a job properly. Each idea and suggestions put forward by all the members of the group have to be taken into account for the successful completion of the work.
4. Decision making takes time:
In view of the fact that it is a group effort, suggestions and ideas from all the people in a group have to be taken into account.
Prior to making any decision, all aspects are to be thoroughly discussed and considered, which consequently takes up a lot of time and energy.
5. Easy to avoid work:
When in a group especially a large one, it is very easy for the person to avoid work and leave it to others to complete. It may take some time before someone actually pays attention to this fact.
One can work, in whatever way possible and can also get acknowledgment for work done by someone else, as it is teamwork and the person is part of the team.
6. Loss of Creativity:
Whenever you need to work as a group, group thinking becomes more relevant. Because of this reason, creativity has been stumped.
One can never make a good decision, as each and every person in the group will have a say in it.
7. Time Consuming:
The whole process could be time-consuming while working in a group. It takes a lot of time since there is a need for agreement and coordination from all members of the team.
8. Inequality in getting work:
If the person opts to work in a group, when the work is being distributed, everyone might not get an equal amount of work.
Someone might end up with more work, while others might get only little to do. This discrepancy in getting the work can also lead to conflict.
9. People might loaf around:
One other issue while working in a group, is that some of the people may just hang around, gossiping or loafing around without doing the job. This could result in lesser productivity from their end.
Tips to Improve Working in a Group:
- It is often found that people working in a group can work better when they are comfortable with each other.
- Engaging in social activities together can help one to overcome this problem.
- Once, the role to be assumed by all is clearly marked out it becomes easier to work in a group.
- The people need to have a proper ongoing exchange of ideas.
- In order to get the best of output, one needs to focus more on the benefits of working in a group.
Thus, working together can prove to be advantageous for the project, as well as the company.
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10 advantages and disadvantages of group work in the classroom
The use of group work in the classroom is one of the most widely researched and implemented teaching approaches in the world. Numerous research studies have shown the benefits of collaborative learning on academic performance, communication skills, and confidence.
However, our understanding of how group work facilitates learning and why group work is only effective in certain situations is still limited. And like with all teaching strategies, the disadvantages need to be taken into consideration.
Amongst educators, there is a growing debate surrounding the efficacy of group work due to the potential for laziness, unequal workload, conflict between students, and a loss of focus on the task at hand. So, we took a look at the pros and cons of implementing group work into the classroom to determine how effective it really is.
5 advantages of group work
The phrase “two heads are better than one” certainly has some merit. Researchers found that if students are able to work together , for example on a problem-solving task, they are more likely to experiment with different techniques in order to try and solve it. They can also learn faster from positive and negative feedback.
Students also learn better by discussing and questioning each other’s opinions and reasoning as this allows them to develop different perspectives of how they can go about completing a task. Research shows this promotes cognitive restructuring , enhancing academic, social, and emotional learning as a result.
Working in a group can be tough. So, when students are able to overcome all the conflict, stress, and long hours that come with group assignments, the end result of getting a good grade can be extremely satisfying and motivating.
Research shows that students who contribute to group discussion and engage with the assigned problem-solving task are highly dedicated to figuring out a solution. When they find that solution, students report feeling extremely satisfied with their role in making that decision compared to students who weren’t as involved. This leads to a more positive depiction of their group learning experience.
Teamwork is a staple part of academic life and allows students to explore complex tasks that they otherwise wouldn’t have done if they had been alone, enhancing both their individual and collective learning. This is because working in a group exposes students to new perspectives, styles of thinking, and disagreement.
This provides students with an opportunity to improve their communication skills, collaboration and provides a larger capacity for brainstorming different ideas. This not only contributes to a more holistic approach to learning but can help group productivity as well.
A survey showed that 97% of students reported that working in a group environment has helped facilitate their learning and collaborative skills in some way. Some students suggested that group work served as a learning process in itself; that is, they learnt about groups by working in a group.
Research also shows that learning in a group leads to better memory recall and understanding. This is because students remember more from group discussions than if they listened to the same content in a more instructional format.
However, these benefits are only felt if:
- Clear goals are set
- There is clear leadership
- Each member is assigned a specific role
- There’s equal participation from all group members
- The task is relevant to syllabus content
Although this study was conducted with university students, these findings are still relevant to other educational levels.
Learn to overcome conflict
Some teachers argue that conflict during group work can actually be a good thing as it is representative of experiences students will have in their future workplaces. By experiencing it in a more controlled setting, students learn about communication skills and how to resolve interpersonal issues more safely.
Group work also allows students to develop a better understanding of themselves and how their peers view them. By gaining constructive feedback from their peers about how well they did on a task and how well they worked as part of the group, students are better equipped to evaluate their social skills and behaviour.
5 disadvantages of group work
Anyone who has done group work knows that is can have its fair share of disadvantages. Let’s take a look at why.
Presence of conflict
When working with others, it’s natural that disagreement will arise due to differences in opinions. Some students find it difficult to accept criticism from their peers and struggle to get on board with ideas that aren’t their own.
Moreover, students who are quiet often have difficulty expressing their ideas in a group and may feel uncomfortable working with people they don’t normally speak to. As a result, they may be seen as lazy, creating conflict.
Research shows that the presence of conflict in group work can negatively impact the students’ enjoyment of that class, inhibit their individual learning, and increase stress levels. This is because students felt that compromising and coming to an agreement was an extremely difficult and draining process. This led to many students developing a fear of conflict.
In group work, you’ll often observe a large discrepancy in participation between the different group members. With a lot of group projects, it’s common to find 1-2 students taking the bulk of the workload, whilst other members essentially freeload. This can lead to conflict and breed bitterness amongst the different group members – especially if the student feels others are being rewarded for their hard work.
Research shows that this is more evident in larger groups as individuals tend to diffuse the responsibility of tasks onto others as grades typically don’t consider individual contribution. Other times, a student may just give their peers the answer without explaining how they worked it out. Consequently, no real knowledge and understanding have been gained.
Avoiding the task
When working in a group, it’s quite common for students to go off-topic, especially if the task involves discussion. Some students may use that time to gossip, do other tasks, or loaf around. This results in the group work session being less effective and productive .
As a teacher, it’s difficult to make sure everyone is doing the task they’re supposed to for the entire session, not just as you approach their table to see how they’re doing. For some teachers, it feels that they have to micromanage the task in order for the task to be effective, diminishing the purpose of working in a group.
Working in a team can be extremely time-consuming as a student. Not only do meetings have to be scheduled outside of class hours but they have to co-ordinate with everyone’s schedule. For sixth-form students in particular, this can be quite difficult due to already being overscheduled .
Researchers have even argued whether the time-consuming nature of group work made the strategy ineffective. As a result, more research is emerging about when not to use group work in the classroom and suggest that for simpler tasks, students complete them individually.
Individual needs are dominated by the needs of the group
Not all students learn at the same speed. Some may need more time to fully understand the task and process the information they’re being taught. On the flip side, some students may grasp the material very quickly.
Therefore, when working as a group, certain students are either forced to hurry up their learning to the extent that they either learn nothing or resort to copying. Alternatively, those who work faster may actually be going too fast, attempting to move onto the next task before everyone is ready. This can lead to conflict as students may get frustrated by the learning process.
Group learning can be effective regardless of people’s socioeconomic status or whether they’re put into a group with the same people throughout the year. However, the advantages of this active learning environment are only observed when it is done right.
Group size, how groups are assigned and how the teacher manages the groups can have both a positive and negative impact on learning. Due to the potential disadvantages, some research suggests that group work should only be used in moderation by allowing simpler tasks to be completed individually and more complex tasks to be completed in groups.
For tips on how to engage your students in the classroom, take a look at our blogs on how to create a psychologically smart classroom and why you should interleave your teaching .
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Advantages and Disadvantages of Group Work
As students progress towards higher education, they will not only be working with themselves but also with other students. Collaboration is greatly emphasized in higher education such as in universities and polytechnics, and one of the ways this can be seen is through group projects or works.
Despite its many benefits, however, group work seems to have lost its appeal among students. Many students prefer working by themselves and even choose schools that would allow fewer group activities for this reason. Students think that since they can do the project alone, they don’t need to be in groups to complete it. However, group work does have its advantages, as well as disadvantages. In this article, we’ll dive into the two sides of group work and how to make working in groups more conducive for students.
Advantages of group work
The ability of students to collaborate with others, think critically, and solve problems is recognized to be reflected a lot during group work. Their intellectual, social, and emotional learning are also improved.
1. Group work improves teamwork
Since collaboration is the heart of group work, students will have to interact a lot with the members of their group to complete their tasks and finish their projects. Their capacity for active listening, conversation, and communication is put to the test then. They will be able to get to know their groupmates as people and will understand them better in order to also work on the project. It is known that though it will be group work, each member may have a specific task. If they start to get to know their members better, they may also understand better which area their members work best to speed up their tasks and complete the project with great results. They may also learn to be more flexible and adapt to other students’ schedules as well as their working styles.
2. Group work expands learning
Student problem-solving opportunities are increased and learning is facilitated by group work. Group talks, according to studies, improve learning and memory. This is because it enables them to digest knowledge and practically apply it. Think of it as talking with your friends, you will be more inclined to pay closer attention to what they are saying in an informal setting, and will be more likely to remember it.
Group work also helps digest knowledge easier as you can cut down pieces of it and assign them to different members. This way, one member can be the expert on one topic and share what they have learned with their members. This wouldn’t burden students who have to study everything by themselves all at once.
3. Group work enables students to see new perspectives
Group work makes use of all the members of the group. This means that during group discussions, students get to share different kinds of perspectives and opinions. They can exchange feedback with each other and share ideas which also helps develop their reasoning skills.
Disadvantages of group work
Group work has numerous benefits for students, but it can also hamper their ability to learn. This is especially true in unfavorable situations like significant group disagreements or when some members don’t participate or show up.
1. Uneven division of work
There will be instances in group work wherein the distribution of workload will be obviously uneven. It’s very common to have a problem with students who don’t participate or contribute during the group project. Some students may not decide to show up for meetings or not complete their assigned tasks on time or at all. This can be frustrating to others who are trying their best for the group.
This would also mean that since some members are not doing the work they should’ve put in, other members will have to pick it up and this could also result in increased levels of stress and tension in the group, discussions may be less effective, conflicts, and lower group grade.
2. Conflict with other members
While conflict is something that can’t be easily avoided in group work, there are ways to handle it well so it will not affect the outcome of the project. However, if it’s not taken care of, conflict can negatively affect the project and the members. The conflict between members can cause students to be more inclined to work alone than with others, increase their stress levels, and affect students’ relationships.
3. Hinders individual learning
Every student learns at a different pace and in a different way. However, when collaborating on a group assignment, students are expected to accommodate the different learning styles and velocities of their peers. As a result, they can have a harder time grasping things on their own. For instance, a student may require more time than their group mates to comprehend the material. However, they are compelled to learn more quickly since they must collaborate with their group. They will have no choice but to rush, making their learning less effective.
How to make group work work?
Teachers and tutors must make group work congenial in order to ensure that students gain from it. They can do so by helping facilitate during group discussions. One way to also encourage equal participation is to have students do self-reflections after every group project. Students can reflect on their actions, the lessons they have learned, and their areas for development. This motivates students to accept responsibility for their own errors and growth. Additionally, it aids students in recognizing their strengths and weaknesses.
Aside from self-reflection, teachers can also allow their students to assess their own group mates. Because they could still receive the same grade even if they don’t participate, some students will sometimes follow others’ lead. This will lead to students slacking off and passing everything to their other members. Students can balance their grades according to each other’s involvement by being given the opportunity to evaluate one another. A better mark is awarded to those who participated and contributed the most, and a lesser grade is given to those who did not.
For students, working in groups may be an anxious but rewarding experience. However, due to the pressures and conflicts that students encounter, group work can occasionally impede their development. Because of this, it’s critical to facilitate group work and provide students with more autonomy when working in groups.
Carelle is a teacher who has been through the ups and downs of the teacher and learner life. She wishes for every learner to gain educational satisfaction that will help embody the people they want to be in the future.
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Many of us now routinely have to work in groups, either professionally or personally. From classroom learning, through university assignments, to projects at work, group working is becoming more and more standard.
Most of us will also recognise that groups can have both strengths and weaknesses—both for the group, and for the individuals involved. These strengths and weaknesses will vary with the purpose, structure and nature of the group. They will also change over time as the group evolves.
This page discusses both the strengths and weaknesses of groups, and explores some ideas for maximising the strengths, and overcoming some of the weaknesses.
Strengths and Advantages of Group Working
There are many strengths and advantages to working in a group, including making decisions as a group. These include:
The group’s work and decisions can draw on the knowledge, skills and experience of all members. This means that decisions can be informed by multiple perspectives, making them more likely to be based on stronger evidence—and therefore sounder.
Group working encourages members to develop and explore new ideas and perspectives . Research among students showed that those working in groups were more likely to try new techniques for problem-solving. They were also more open to new ideas. The thinking is that hearing different opinions can lead to changes in views, and therefore result in more willingness to hear new ideas.
Existing relationships can help to improve group cohesion . Where two or more people within a group already have a relationship, this can help to build group cohesion, by providing common ground.
Groups compensate for individual weaknesses and support personal development . In groups, individuals can compensate for their own weaknesses by drawing on the skills and strengths of others. However, they can also learn and get support from other group members to develop in areas of weakness.
Working in a group can satisfy the need to ‘belong’. Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs places the need to belong only three rungs up from the bottom. This means it is less crucial only than physiological needs (food, water and shelter) and feeling safe. Working in a group therefore meets a very basic need in all of us.
The challenges of group working can make success more satisfying . Working in a group is not always easy. Group members often feel far more satisfied by achieving a good result than those who work alone, who may feel that success is expected, or downplay their achievements.
Groups often provide unexpected learning opportunities . Working in groups gives opportunities for individuals to talk to others with similar problems and issues and share their experiences.
Groups can be a safe environment to improve individual understanding and support personal development . Individual behaviour, feelings and attitudes are greatly influenced by other people. Group members can therefore act as role models and provide reinforcement for changing behaviours through mutual support and positive feedback.
Groups may enable sharing of workloads and support networks . Working alone may lead to isolation or feeling unsupported. Formal requirements for group working can enable better sharing of work, and development of mutual support networks. This, in turn, can help to ensure that everyone can develop a better work–life balance .
You may also be interested in our guest post on the benefits to individuals of working in groups .
Weaknesses of Working in Groups
Many of the strengths of working in a group can also turn into weaknesses if not managed correctly. Groups also have specific weaknesses that stem from having several people working together.
Group decision-making can take a long time . Decisions made by groups are usually held to be better than individual decisions, because they draw on more perspectives and information. However, they can also take a long time to make, because of the need to explore these varying perspectives. Group leaders need to balance these two requirements to get the benefits of group decision-making without taking too much time.
Groups can be vulnerable to errors of decision-making, such as ‘groupthink’ . This is especially true where group members are more similar, or value cohesion above results.
Existing relationships within a group can damage development of wider group cohesion . Where two or more people within a group already have a relationship, this can encourage the formation of subgroups or cliques within a wider group. This, in turn, can make it harder for other members of the group to fit in.
It takes time to develop full understanding of roles and responsibilities . Until that understanding develops, groups may be vulnerable to misunderstandings and miscommunications. This can result in work not being done, or being done twice.
Working in a group may dampen individuals’ sense of responsibility for decisions . A collective decision is owned by the group, not by any one individual. This means that individuals may be prepared to agree to more risk for the group than they would accept for themselves. They may also be more prepared to accept a bad decision because they will not be held personally responsible.
Care is needed to ensure that all group members feel equally able to contribute . More confident people may feel more able to contribute vocally, and those who get more ‘airtime’ may feel more ‘heard’ than others. Feeling unable to contribute may lead people to withdraw from the process.
Conflict may arise with a group for several reasons. Conflict can arise because individuals have different ways of working, or different ideas for achieving the group’s objectives, or even because they disagree with the group’s objectives. Open conflict can be helpful in clearing the air, but it can also lead to the group fragmenting into subgroups, or individuals leaving the group or withdrawing their cooperation.
One or two people may take control of the group, and essentially side-line others. This can lead to poorer decision-making, individual withdrawal, and refusal to sign off decisions. A similar split can arise if one or two people are prepared to put in a lot more effort to get the work done, and feel that others are taking advantage of them.
It may be difficult to maintain confidentiality within a group . This is simply because information shared by more people is more likely to be discussed or shared further.
Some individuals may withdraw cooperation, or even disrupt the group . Some people do not like being in a group situation. In particular, they may not like to express problems or share ideas with others. If forced to participate, these people may become disruptive or withdraw. Other people may become disruptive if the group process does not seem to be going the way they want—for example, if their ideas have been rejected, even after careful discussion and consideration.
Individuals may resent the pressure to conform to the group’s norms . This may lead to them withdrawing. They may also disrupt the group to the extent that the norms have to be re-evaluated. There is more about this in our pages on Group Life Cycle and Building Group Cohesiveness .
Organising a group needs resources, accommodation, time and on-going commitment . This is a fundamental issue with any group. Those involved need to be clear that those resources are available.
There is more about many of these weaknesses, and how to overcome them, in our page on Group Decision-Making .
Getting the Best out of Group Working
Group working is unmistakeably now a standard part of most people’s lives . It is therefore important to be able to get the most out of working in a group, without succumbing to the many weaknesses and disadvantages of group working.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this is awareness. Being aware of the strengths and weaknesses of group working puts you in a far stronger position to address both. Group leaders play a key role in overcoming weaknesses, for example, by ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to contribute, and that there is time for decisions to be discussed fully. However, group members can also play a role, by being open in their communication, and honest if the group process is not working for them. Our page on Building Group Cohesiveness contains other ideas, as does our page on group processes .
Continue to: Group Diversity Group Dynamics
See also: Managing Difficult Behaviour in Meetings Rebuilding Teams After Remote Working Joining an Established Team Team Building
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8 Surprising Pros & Cons of Teamwork
Great teams consolidate the strengths of their individuals to work more effectively towards a common objective.
It’s one of the most commonly asked questions during job interviews: “Are you a team player or do you prefer to work alone?”
Naturally, most people tend to fall on one side of the spectrum. But while certain jobs will suit certain personality types better, the truth is that within a work environment it’s important to be comfortable working both alone and within a team. There are likely to be instances where you’ll need to buckle down and get on with a task unassisted, and times where you’ll need to pool your ideas as part of a group to tackle a larger scale project together.
In this first part of our Teamwork vs Individual Work blog series, we will be considering the advantages and disadvantages of working within a team:
☑ Pro: Shared responsibility
Overseeing a major project at work can be a daunting task. You’ll need to ensure everything goes to plan, that you’re covering all bases, and that you achieve the right results. It can be incredibly stressful when you’re juggling many tasks all at once, and if anything goes wrong management are only going to turn to you. Sharing responsibility with a team can relieve some of that stress and ensure there are more eyes on the ball. While some people relish complete control, working within a team can be highly rewarding when everyone is working together.
☒ Con: Not everyone pulling in same direction
One of the major drawbacks of teamwork is that sometimes, not everyone will pull in the same direction. Colleagues will have different opinions on how to do things or will seek to achieve different outcomes altogether. This will ultimately slow a project down and potentially derail it if there’s enough to-ing and fro-ing. That’s why it’s important to agree on a clear set of objectives from the get-go. This will ensure that everyone is following a cohesive plan. And even if they disagree, there’ll be no excuses to go off-piste.
☑ Pro: Effective problem solving
When working alone, you are limited to your own sets of skills and experience. Working within a team is a great way to inject more ideas and ways of thinking into a project. This is especially useful when you hit a snag. Having multiple viewpoints, will help everyone raise their game and attempt to think outside their own individual box, which will most definitely create a more effective and holistic solution to any potential problems.
☒ Con: Never-ending meetings
Anyone who has worked within a large team knows that meetings can eat up a large chunk of the working week. When you’re in a team, everyone needs to come to agreement on the way forward. Any changes will not only need approval, but will also need to be communicated effectively among the team. This is usually achieved through everyone gathering to discuss the project in a meeting. However, if not handled efficiently with a clear agenda, meetings can drag on for hours and result in deadlines needing to be pushed back.
☑ Pro: Build stronger professional relationships
Successful companies are built on great teams, not just great individuals. Learning to work within a team is therefore essential to the greater good of the company. Teamwork also helps instil more tangible values in the company culture and gives space for colleagues to become friends with shared objectives, goals, and work ethics.
☒ Con: Potential for conflict
Naturally, within any team there are likely to be very different people, with different perspectives and different ways of doing things. This can be a strength; however, it can also give rise to conflict when disagreements break out on which ideas to focus on or how to resolve problems. When not addressed and resolved, conflicts can cause serious setbacks. Great teams are those who learn to work together despite their differences.
☑ Pro: Teamwork is a platform for quality leadership
In order for a team to be productive, it must be led by a quality leader. One of the great things about teamwork is that it’s an opportunity for individuals to rise to the challenge of taking on more responsibility to organise and motivate the team. This is a great way to build and learn leadership qualities first-hand. Management is also likely to keep an eye on any team effort to see where potential leaders lie within their company for future promotions.
☒ Con: Team members seeking personal glory
On the flipside of this point, some individuals may be out to seek personal glory at the expense of everyone else in the team. This may lead to an individual trying to stand out by ignoring team efforts altogether to do their own thing. They may even go so far as to bypass the team completely to communicate their ideas and points directly with managers. In the end this will only lead to disruption and a breakdown in collective morale. It’s important for any team to acknowledge individual achievements, whilst reminding everybody that there’s more to gain through collaboration.
Are you a team player or a lone wolf? Find the ideal job that suits your personality on the Exacta Solutions vacancy page .
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Advantages and Disadvantages of Group Work
Advantages of group work.
1) Groups are natural places in which people live and grow. Families, peer groups, workplace groups and neighborhood groups are central to the social life of an individual. If these groups have significant influence on our personalities, can’t groups be used to change the behavior of the members? Group work aims at achieving these aims in different settings.
2) Group members who have similar interests and problems can help each other by sharing their experiences and their problems. The principles of mutual aid and self help are emphasized. Group work’s major advantage over casework is that each member becomes a helper and a helped in the group. Thus help is given and taken in a spirit of equality.
3) Group members empower members by increasing their consciousness and awareness. People’s personal problems are made public and when it becomes known that large number of people is involved. Solutions are then discussed and further actions planned and implemented.
4) Groups are used to elicit opinions of the members in the agency regarding the services provided.
5) Group work is able to show in practice the democratic principles.
6) Group work is very effective for certain groups of people like adolescent, children and women. These groups find it more comfortable to get help in groups as their need for security and belonging is fulfilled in groups.
7) Group work is economical and time saving as a number of clients are treated at the same time.
Disadvantages of Group Work
1) Confidentiality is difficult to achieve as personal knowledge is shared with the group.
2) Forming groups can be difficult. Members often drop out, are absent and do not cooperate which can lead to dissolution of the groups
3) Agencies do not fully support group work as they are not clear about its usefulness.
4) Group work often degenerates into games and fun neglecting the treatment process.
5) Group needs resources like common time, place and resources.
6) Individual attention is missing and non participating members become lonely.
7) Group work can further the stigma and discrimination that the members face in society as they become identified with the group.
8) Professional expertise is often missing as group work is seen as being general skill everyone can master.
14 Universal pros and cons of teamwork you should know
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There are both advantages and disadvantages to working as part of a team. Advantages include being able to pool resources (both human and financial), having built-in support systems, and being able to hold each other accountable.
Disadvantages of teamwork can include conflict between team members, difficulty in making decisions, and feelings of isolation from the rest of the company if you’re not working closely with others on a daily basis.
If you’re weighing up the pros and cons of teamwork (for example, as part of a university assignment), then keep reading!
7 Disadvantages of teamwork
Here are 7 of the disadvantages of working as a team.
1. People might not work as hard
One of the disadvantages of teamwork is that people might not work as hard since they feel like they are carrying less of the load. Accountability is split between everyone and you might end up with the bystander effect : no one does anything because they feel someone else will step in.
If you’ve ever worked on a team project at college, then you might have come across that one student who just doesn’t seem to want to do anything to contribute, but is happy to stand with you while you take the credit.
Fortunately, at work there are fewer examples of people who are genuinely lazy or so distracted they are unable to take part. Good team leadership means poor performers are put under performance management so they are weeded out. Perhaps it’s harder to hide at work.
2. Difficult to reach consensus
Another disadvantage is that it can be difficult to come to a consensus when making decisions and everybody may not be on the same page.
That’s tricky when you are using techniques like sociocracy and everyone does need to at least not be against the idea. Again, in the workplace, consensus-based decision-making is less of a problem, because normally there is someone with a greater stake in the decision.
Their opinion tends to count for more. Plus there is a hierarchy of decision-making which means the most senior person will often just decide.
Our role in that situation is simply to present a few recommendations. The project sponsor or senior executive then make the choice.
The risk with this kind of decision-making is that they make an unpopular decision, and that can cause discontent in the team. Unhappy colleagues tend to work more slowly and with less interest, so morale drops and below become disenfranchised with what they have been asked to do.
3. Personality clashes
Additionally, there can also be personality clashes within teams which can make things tense and uncomfortable.
There isn’t much you can do about that beyond team-building and trying to create a culture where everyone feels like they are respected and heard. As a team leader, your goal is to try not to get into this position by making good hiring choices.
If you are already in a toxic environment, it might simply be easier to move to work somewhere else!
4. Higher risk of conflict
The more people, the more likely it is that tempers will flare at some point.
Conflict in teams can be healthy, for example when you are discussing different options and coming up with what might be the best solution to solve a problem.
But sometimes conflict is just annoying.
If you work alone, you will rarely have soul-destroying conflict with yourself!
5. It takes longer
Yep, doing things as a team takes longer. You have to set individual goals, schedule regular meetings, keep an eye on employee morale and deal with incompetent people. You have to negotiate the division of labor and put a lot more effort into communication.
But doing the job yourself? Simple. Some jobs are easier to get on with and do alone, as long as your personal level of skill means it would be a straightforward task for you.
6. It costs more
OK, the jury is out on this one, but in my experience, the overhead of having a team adds additional costs. There is more expenditure for travel and expenses, team building , team celebrations.
Even extra meetings adds cost, as you pay both for the room hire and also for the time of the people who are meeting.
7. Being in a silo
Sometimes teams can get quite insular. Working with the same people to the exclusion of all others can feel like you’re in a silo and you can’t see the bigger picture.
Just so you know, I think the benefits of team working outweigh the disadvantages, but you can’t get away from the fact that even an effective team might struggle with some of these over time.
7 Advantages of teamwork
So why do organizations put so much effort into creating teams? The short answer is that the team is more successful than any individual could be alone.
Here are 7 reasons.
When you work as a team, you can get things done more efficiently i.e. faster. When everyone is working together towards a common goal, tasks can be completed quicker and with less effort.
People have defined roles and they can get good at their area of expertise. For example, on a project team you’d have a project manager, a project sponsor, probably a supplier, probably a customer rep and some subject matter experts. Each person brings something unique and together they complete the work more efficiently than possible if one person had to do all the roles.
2. Better decisions
Additionally, working as a team can also help to foster communication and collaboration skills among employees. When leaders take a variety of views into account, they normally end up with a better decision because the problem has been considered from multiple angles.
If you are a project manager, there are a few secrets to collaborating with a team that I can share with you: this blog is full of tips!
3. Better risk management
Different perspectives are great at highlighting things that might go wrong. When you bring smart people together, they see things through the lens of their own experience, and that can help identify project risks . Or business risk more generally.
When you know what risks might affect your project, you can better plan to make sure they don’t actually cause problems in the future.
4. Built-in support system
Team members look out for each other. They will support each other, even if they aren’t particularly friends. Over time, a loyalty builds up across the team that creates a support network. It’s kind of hard to explain, but you’ll know it if you have it.
To give you an example, on one project, I had an early morning email from a colleague who had had a death in the family. He was due to be completing some work that day. Within an hour or so, as a team we’d reorganized the work between us.
In another example (sadly, another death), I called a colleague who was not due to be traveling and she replied, “What do you need me to do?” She traveled to present at a meeting and stepped up to support the team, because that’s what professionals, colleagues and team members do to look out for each other.
In both those cases, I was fortunate to be surrounded by willing, compassionate, professional colleagues who were able to flex their diaries and work to accommodate what was needed — because another member of the team needed that support system.
These teamwork skills can be beneficial in other aspects of life outside of work.
5. Use subject matter expertise efficiently
You can’t be good at everything. A team brings together the right experts to work on a problem or process.
Together, the team is efficient because people are doing what they are trained for.
If you have ever tried to do DIY and found yourself less than expert at it, you’ll appreciate the value of bringing in someone who is competent doing the task!
6. The team is more successful than working alone
Yep, this is the main reason why teams are set up. Results are better when teams work together on problems.
7. Diversity of opinion
I know how I like things done. But I might not necessarily have all the facts or experience to do the right thing.
An anecdote from a book I read (and if you recognize it, email me as I can’t remember the title! Maybe Invisible Women ?) makes this point.
A team of male packaging engineers were struggling with creating the packaging for a frozen dessert. One day, a woman walked into the packaging lab (or wherever they worked) and pointed out how to make the packaging actually work.
Diversity of opinion makes for better solutions. In this case, from a woman who was responsible for opening frozen desserts as she managed the household meals and had experience over decades that the men didn’t have.
Probably an old-fashioned example, but it made me realize that it’s important to have diverse opinions on a team as they lead to better solutions.
Challenges and risks that arise from working in teams
When working in a team environment be aware of the potential challenges and risks that can arise. Here are few things to watch out for.
One challenge that can come up is that team members may have different levels of experience or expertise .
This can lead to tension or conflict if people don’t feel like they’re on the same level. Especially if people who are not as qualified or experienced and word gets out that they are paid more than the certified people. Drama!
(Not speaking from personal experience…)
Read next: 5 ways to manage team conflict .
Having to stay on top of changing dynamics
Another potential issue is that team dynamics can change over time .
As people’s needs and goals evolve, new challenges and risks can come up. External factors such as deadlines or budget constraints can also have an impact on the way teams work together. Check out Tucker’s model of Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning to see how the life cycle of teams changes over time.
Virtual teams are a whole other level of complexity. Remote team members need to feel trusted and empowered to do their work. Bosses seem to be struggling with productivity paranoia : 85% of leaders are concerned that employees aren’t working hard enough if they can’t see them.
These challenges can be difficult to manage and can cause problems if not handled correctly. Working in teams can be rewarding and productive, but it’s important to be aware of the challenges that can come up.
By being prepared and working together, you can overcome any obstacles that come your way.
How to overcome the disadvantages of teamwork
We all know that teamwork has its advantages and disadvantages.
But what happens when the disadvantages start to outweigh the advantages?
The secret (if there is one) is to stop the disadvantages happening in the first place. Working on your team should be a positive, rewarding affair. There are a few things you can do to overcome the challenges and make teamwork work for you.
Encourage open communication among team members. If team members feel like they can’t openly communicate with each other, it can lead to conflict and miscommunication.
Make sure everyone knows that they can come to you with any concerns or ideas they have. Knowing there is a listening ear waiting will help everyone feel like they’re part of the team and that their opinion matters.
Build trust by keeping your word and following through on commitments. If team members don’t trust each other, it’s going to be difficult to get anything done.
Respect each other’s time and skillset by delegating tasks fairly. One of the advantages of teamwork is that it allows you to delegate tasks and share the workload. But not delegating tasks fairly creates tension in the team. No one wants to take meeting minutes every week when other people get the cool jobs.
Make sure you take into account each team member’s time and skill set when you’re delegating tasks .
And try to avoid micromanaging – it’ll only lead to frustration on both sides!
Key Takeaway: Advantages of teamwork: share workload, achieve goals faster. Disadvantages of teamwork: can lead to conflict, trust issues. Overcome disadvantages by encouraging communication, building trust, and respecting team members.
Overall, the advantages of teamwork far outweigh the disadvantages. When team members are aware of and respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses, they can utilize them to create a well-rounded and effective unit. That could be an operational team or a project team, or another kind of team outside of work, like a volunteer committee.
In this article, you learned about the pros and cons of teamwork, why teams are a good thing, and how to offset the disadvantages by creating a positive working culture.
Project manager, author, mentor
Elizabeth Harrin is a Fellow of the Association for Project Management in the UK. She holds degrees from the University of York and Roehampton University, and several project management certifications including APM PMQ. She first took her PRINCE2 Practitioner exam in 2004 and has worked extensively in project delivery for over 20 years. Elizabeth is also the founder of the Project Management Rebels community, a mentoring group for professionals. She's written several books for project managers including Managing Multiple Projects .