Teamwork is the process of having two or more people working cooperatively and collaboratively on a specific task. It could be a project at work, a marriage, or finding the correct directions to the movie theater.
Anyone who has ever tried to build a team will tell you that humans are more complex than this basic definition. People want to feel valued with their contributions. They want to share their experiences, opinions, and education to help themselves and others succeed. If there aren’t any opportunities to provide these options, then individuals will feel excluded even if the work is still collaborative.
When people work together, then the diversity of experiences can provide teams of any size more strength than when someone is working individually. You can also find some disadvantages waiting for you when people get together to work.
That’s why a complete look at the advantages and disadvantages of teamwork can be useful.
List of the Advantages of Teamwork
1. Teams can divide a large project into smaller tasks.
When teams can tackle a large project, then everyone can take a smaller piece of the work instead of making one person try to do everything. If you have a long list of steps that requires completion and deadlines that have zero flexibility, then a collaborative effort helps you to get more accomplished in a shorter time.
Imagine that you have a list of 50 tasks to complete. If there is only one worker available, then that person is responsible for all fifty items. If you had a team of 10 people working on this project, then each worker would only need to accomplish five tasks to finish the work.
2. Teams create brainstorming opportunities.
When people have an opportunity to work together, then they can address difficulties or problems with a project or task with different perspectives. You have opportunities to brainstorm challenging situations with other people who have different experiences, perspectives, and opinions so that you can come up with new solutions. This advantage makes it easier to find the best steps forward when encountering an issue so that you can achieve success in the best possible way.
3. It offers a forum for communication
Teams have the most success when they get opportunities to speak with each other consistently. Group work creates a natural forum for ideas to have a give-and-take with everyone. This advantage gives the team more time to look at feedback, discuss progress, and identify roadblocks so that productivity still occurs.
If a group commits to a thorough communication process, then it is much easier for them to meet deadlines or offer additional help whenever it is needed.
4. Teamwork encourages more individualized accountability.
Teams create a process where you can have employees keep each other on their assigned tasks. It allows a manager or supervisor to focus on their work while each member keeps themselves and everyone else accountable to the project. Shared spreadsheets, collaborative documents, or regular meetings that require progress reports are all different ways to encourage this advantage.
Although there will always be some people who try to take advantage of a team to get lost and do minimal work, it minimizes the chances that there will be times when people can slack off.
5. It creates a structure where mentorship gets encouraged.
Teamwork creates a system where you can have new workers paired with experienced ones to create mentorship opportunities. Instead of forcing people to sit through training classes or throwing them directly into the fire with their responsibilities, this advantage creates moments of guidance and leadership for everyone. It enables people to learn from and emulate their seniors or superiors, creating confidence in new skills.
This advantage includes reverse mentorship opportunities. Many new employees have access to technologies and ideas that may not be available to older workers. As one person passes along their experience, the other shows how the world is evolving. That creates more strength for everyone.
6. Teamwork creates places where you can recognize personal strengths and weaknesses.
When people get opportunities to work as a group, then they can lead times of self-reflection for themselves and others. This increase in awareness can help people to discover their own leadership potential, discover hidden strengths, or begin to eliminate potential weaknesses so that they can find more problem-solving skills. There can be incredible opportunities for growth when teams come together regularly to examine themselves and teammates in safe, productive environments.
7. It creates stronger relationships.
When people have opportunities to work and collaborate with one another, then openness creates stronger relationships. A positive environment creates daily moments where motivation and encouragement can build everyone up while creating personal and professional networks. It is an advantage that lets a group anticipate the needs of each other while still creating a personal plan for success.
The advantage of this system is that it creates circumstances where everyone feels comfortable. It becomes a safe place to experiment without negative criticism, encouraging everyone to find new moments of growth.
8. Teamwork creates cross-training opportunities.
Teamwork creates more moments where individual members can cross-train one another to create new skills and strengths in time. This advantage makes it easier to integrate more people into different roles as the scope of a project allows. It is a benefit that creates depth and added flexibility because more people can cover vacant roles. You can prevent burnout because there are more ways to provide time off, create vacation opportunities, and eliminate the need to make people come in when they’re sick.
9. Working in a team results in movement toward a common direction.
When a team gets put together to manage a project or complete a specific series of tasks, then people will find a way to follow a common direction. That doesn’t mean you won’t experience any arguments or disagreements along the way, but it does offer a variety of people from different backgrounds to find ways to work together. Once everyone gets on the same page after having an opportunity to voice their concerns or ideas, then most teams find a way to work together effectively.
List of the Disadvantages of Teamwork
1. Some personalities tend to dominate the conversation.
Although leadership is a valuable skill that every team can use to its benefit, some team members can have strong personalities that dominate conversations and circumstances. When this dynamic occurs on a team, then it can become challenging for other members to provide feedback or share opinions. It’s a disadvantage that eventually leads to issues with team cohesion and cooperation, reducing chances at productivity instead of creating more of them.
2. Teams can divide labor unequally in some situations.
Group work is positive when it involves the equal distribution of work and responsibilities. If each person can focus on tasks that reflect their strengths, then productivity levels can rise dramatically. When an unequal division of labor occurs within a team, then it might make it seem like one person doing the most work is treated equally to the individual doing the least. When everyone earns equal credit when only a couple of individuals are managing all of the responsibilities, then it can adversely impact the unity and purpose of the team.
This disadvantage can also lead to some workers feeling taken advantage of since they’re doing a majority of the work most of the time. It can lead to the top performers deciding to leave because they feel like they’re being held t a different standard.
3. Teamwork can encounter scheduling conflicts.
Even with the significant technologies that we have to support teams today, it can be a challenge to schedule a time when everyone can attend a specific meeting. It is essential to determine whether the complications of scheduling the group work are as valuable as the assignment of tasks to each member. You can even encounter task management issues within this disadvantage because the duties of one member might run on an opposite schedule as the rest of the team.
4. Some people may feel like they’re contributions are unwanted.
Whether the feeling is real or perceived doesn’t matter. When someone feels like they are unwanted by their team, then their contributions will feel undervalued. This issue may cause them to stop offering ideas or encouraging innovation when their suggestions might be the best of the group. Then the decreased creativity can spread out to the rest of the team, producing inferior work that may get rejected upon delivery. This issue can also cause low morale, impact passion, and cause people to begin working for themselves instead of the entire group.
5. It creates more competition within the workplace.
When you put people together on the same team, then their natural competitiveness is going to come out strongly. When people compete with each other, then it can improve individual motivation when the approach is taken in healthy ways. If this issue becomes the focus of the group, then the quality of the work may decline dramatically.
When competitiveness rises to unhealthy levels within a group, then it may be better to work individually than with others.
6. Teams can create resource loss with their activities.
Teams can sometimes lose focus collectively because they’re looking too much at the big picture instead of the individualized steps needed to reach a positive outcome. The planning stages that look at these specific roles can then waste money and resources because the efforts go toward the end result instead of the staged outcome needed.
Group work can also create a lot of wasted time when trying to get moving on a project because there is disagreement within the ranks. If there isn’t a consensus that can get reached, then it may be impossible to create the results you want.
7. You may not get the desired feedback from some individuals.
Some people always agree with whatever the dominant idea of the group tends to be, creating the “yes” person who doesn’t contribute anything to the group. This issue can involve shyness, dominant personalities, or personal reasons that may prevent someone from sharing.
It can also be a disadvantage from the standpoint that the feedback someone gives within the team environment is incorrect. When one member offers advice to another, it may fall outside of the scope of expectations from the leadership.
8. Some people will always work better outside of the team environment.
Some individuals don’t work well in a team environment because they are so used to working independently. Freelancers, gig economy workers, the self-employed, and a variety of other population demographics can still work as part of a team if they have enough autonomy to make them comfortable. If someone has built a career based on their individual skills and independence, then their inclusion in a team could hurt them and everyone else.
It doesn’t do anyone any good to try to force a square peg into a round hole.
9. There can be organization challenges to manage.
Individual workers can often hit the ground running when they are given a new assignment. That person will use their education and expertise to begin the problem-solving process. Teams take much longer to organize as they come together in practical and social ways. There can be delays because of the training that some people need to get caught up to speed. Then, if something goes wrong, it can be challenging to determine who might be at fault when working in a team environment.
Groups can experience higher levels of success with teamwork when they take some specific approaches to organization. It begins when you consider the personalities and working styles of the individuals who are part of the team. If you can assign people who have similar working styles and schedules together, then you’ll create more moments of cohesiveness.
Assigning people a role on the team can help to prevent issues of leadership jumping or rogue personalities. Make sure that each team member receives a place on the team that entails their specific duties.
Then use the groups for training whenever possible. Combining expertise with new ideas is a powerful combination that can lead to incredible results. When you add in the other advantages and disadvantages of teamwork, then you can accomplish almost anything.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.