Many employers are eager to develop teamwork in the workplace; however, this cooperative task completion may not be all it seems. While there are some definite advantages to teamwork, there are also some disadvantages. Before you dedicate yourself to the task of creating a teamwork-rich workplace, consider the potential drawbacks to team task completion and determine whether this cooperative mode of work is really the best option.
Some Workers Struggle with Teams
While some workers thrive in cooperative working situations, others loath teamwork. If the majority of your employees rebel against efforts to form cooperative working units, teamwork may not be an effective means of getting things done in your workplace. As no two workforces are exactly the same, it is necessary to carefully explore your workers' feelings about teamwork to determine whether they will work productively or instead fail to accomplish the set goals when placed into teams.
Decrease in Creativity
Although good ideas may come out of teams, the Federal Aviation Administration reports that this type of work can also be creativity stifling and lead to the development of a "Group Think" tendency. When placed into teams, some employees may be hesitant to present their novel ideas and instead opt to go with the majority of the group members to avoid rocking the boat. When individuals are reluctant to share their novel ideas, employers miss out on potentially wonderful and creative options.
Teams Allow for Free-Riding
When working in teams, those who don't wish to be productive can often fly under the radar and avoid real work. This can lead to a decrease in productivity, as these individuals who freeride within the team are not being productive but instead waiting for the rest of the team members to accomplish the set goals.
Conflict May Develop
While some teams contain members who work harmoniously together, in other teams, conflict develops. The Federal Aviation Administration reports that the development of conflict is a major hindrance to team productivity. Because it is so hard to determine when conflict is likely to develop, it is often difficult to avoid the development of this conflict. If employers choose to place workers into teams, it is vital that they monitor team performance and watch for the development of conflict, responding by rearranging teams if conflict should develop.
Present Evaluation and Reward Challenges
Because products put out by teams are the result of team effort and not the effort of one individual, it is nearly impossible to evaluate individual performance when workers are placed into teams. This inability to evaluate can present a difficulty to employers who present rewards or rely upon performance evaluations for rehiring decisions. The only way to truly evaluate individual performance when workers are working in teams is to ask workers to complete group member evaluations on which they gauge the helpfulness and productivity of each team member; however, this method too is flawed as some workers may downgrade other team members for reasons not related to the task.