dr carl robinson
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The Currency of Success - Interpersonal Intelligence™

Team Work Vs. Individual Work – How to Blend to Maximise Results

We can all remember those times at school when our teachers or professors said the term “group project.” It was usually met with glances to friends and a cacophony of groans. Little did we know then that our educators were trying to prepare us for the “grownup world.” 

Most professions rely on a great deal of communication. Even if we are not working cheek and jowl with others, we still have expectations and deadlines to meet. How do we meet the needs of the individuals working together while also maintaining a measure of completion and satisfaction for the group?

It may be essential to define the difference between teamwork and group work. A team is three or more people collaborating on the same purpose, project, or goal within a business. Group work is three or more people who work in the same field or department but work independently of one another. While a team may have more active day-to-day collaboration, group work has its own needs as a collective that comes with the same challenges as well as rewards. It still all comes down to a group working well as a team.

The Pros and Cons of Teamwork

  • Maximizing the experiences and professional backgrounds of each person allows for more informed approaches to the job at hand
  • “Two heads are better than one” is an adage that is quite true for problem-solving and troubleshooting issues
  • Brainstorming in a group leads to more ideas
  • Teamwork requires lots of meetings that, if not run efficiently, can waste time
  • Some people resent others on the team for not doing their share of the workload
  • The more people in the group, the longer it may take to reach a consensus, thus delaying important decisions

The Pros and Cons of Individual Work

  • People can work at their own pace throughout the day as long as deadlines are met
  • It may be easier to work faster and concentrate harder on the task at hand when others are not seeking input all the time
  • Getting credit for the work done as an individual can feel far more rewarding
  • Self-motivation is hard for a lot of people when working solo
  • Being sick or needing to take days off may delay tasks if it is just up to one person to get it done
  • With no one else to fall back on in a team, failure is a singular experience

The Balance Between 

Hiring people with strong professional backgrounds and determined work ethics is just the start of it. It is a matter of absorbing people into a team or crafting a group that fits together with everyone’s individual strengths to balance out any weaknesses. It comes down to creating internal harmony so that the motor of the team keeps humming along for your business. 

How is that done? By having a strong backbone of assessment, leadership, and listening skills. Every member of the team must feel they are heard as individuals who bring their unique skill sets to the table. If they have a problem or concern, they must know that someone is there to listen to them and then respond in a timely manner. Even if there is nothing to be done to fix their problem, they must feel they are heard and have a positive response as a person. Whoever is the leader of that team, be it someone inside the team or their direct supervisor, that person must be ready and able to formulate a plan and stick to it. A leader must prompt deadlines without applying so much pressure that the wheels moving the team crack. And lastly, regular assessments of the performance of each team member, as individuals comprising the whole of the group, are necessary to keep things moving. 

Balancing the needs and skills of the individual with the demands and positives of the team is the best way to maximize results, for any size business.