12 Disadvantages of Teamwork in the Workplace
In recent years, there has been a shift by many organizations away from individualism towards team-based structures. Teams can be very effective but there are also downsides to this approach. Examples of downsides include: processes taking longer with a team involved, conflicts arising due to personality clashes in some teams, and members blaming each other when something goes wrong.
Listed below in more detail are the twelve main disadvantages of teamwork in the workplace.
I never found a professional environment that made the production of plays efficient. Teamwork is demanded, but there are very few teams.— David Rabe
The 12 Main Downsides of Teamwork in the Workplace
- Takes More Time
- Free Riders
- Personality Clashes
- Some People Work Better Alone
- Reduced Innovation and New Ideas
- Organizational Challenges
- Blame and Responsibility Issues
- Employee Assessment Problems
- Communication Breakdowns
- Too Many Meetings
- Leadership Issues
I examine each disadvantage in more detail below.
1. Takes More Time
Many processes can take much longer when there's a team involved. Much more coordination, work distribution, feedback, and general organization is needed in a team. This can end up costing more money, as well as time and resources. Decisions can also be harder to reach in a group situation.
2. Free Riders
In theory, the workload is shared out equally, but in practice, some people have a tendency to sit back and let others do the work in a team situation. As well as being inefficient, this can also breed resentment and lower morale for the whole team.
3. Personality Clashes
Even if the team is perfectly balanced in terms of skill sets, personality clashes can develop over time. Conflicts can arise due to different styles or approaches, or because members of the team are competing with each other in an unhealthy way.
4. Some People Work Better Alone
Some workers are much better at working on their own and don't fit well into a team environment. These people are happier and work more efficiently alone. They should be screened out at the interview stage, or given independent roles.
One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, there ain't nothin' can beat teamwork.— Edward Abbey
5. Reduced Innovation and New Ideas
Some workers focus too much on the well being of the team and don't bring their own creative ideas to the table, resulting in less innovation and a lack of new ideas. Peer pressure can also make some workers suppress their own ideas for fear of "rocking the boat" or undermining a consensus.
6. Organizational Challenges
A new individual worker can often hit the ground running, but a new team takes longer to organize and come together, both practically and socially. Sometimes delays are also caused because certain team members may need additional training to fulfill their role.
7. Blame and Responsibility Issues
When something goes wrong, there can be a tendency for team members to blame each other. With an individual, it is usually quite clear when they have made a mistake, but with a team, it can be hard sometimes to work out where the fault actually occurred.
8. Employee Assessment Problems
8. Because a team functions as a group with group responsibility, it can be difficult for managers to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of individual members. If the team is successful, for instance, it may not be straightforward working out who contributed to making it happen.
The work of the individual still remains the spark that moves mankind ahead even more than teamwork.— Igor Sikorsky
9. Communication Breakdowns
Communication skill levels need to be very high for a team to work effectively. In practice, communication breakdowns can be common, however, resulting in inefficiency and a lack of trust between team members.
10. Too Many Meetings
It's difficult to run a team without having regular meetings, but meetings need to be effectively managed and organized. They always need to have a purpose and a goal or they can devolve into social gatherings.
As well as conflicts between individuals, teams can split into factions, where two or more sub-groups each have their own agenda and "poltical" positions. This situation can be difficult to resolve without dissolving the whole team and rebuilding afresh.
12. Leadership Issues
Team leaders play a disproportionately large role in the success or failure of a team. Overbearing or disorganized leaders can make the experience for members stressful or dysfunctional and render the team ineffective for the organization. Team leaders can also sometimes take sole credit for work that they didn't do, aggravating team members and presenting an inaccurate impression to senior management.
Teamwork makes the dream work, but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team.— John C. Maxwell
Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Paul Goodman