Virtually every working person I’ve ever come across believes in teamwork. At least they say they do. Sadly, a scarce few of them make teamwork a reality in their organizations; in fact, they often end up creating environments where political infighting and departmental serenity are the norm. And yet they continue to flaunt their belief in teamwork, as if that alone will somehow make it magically appear. I think that only a small minority of companies truly understand and embrace teamwork, even though, more than one in three of the Fortune 500 publicly declares it to be a core value. I would like to start by asking a question – What is a TEAM? I would say it’s an ‘Allegedly Cohesive Summation’ of INDIVIDUALS” Contrary to conventional wisdom, teamwork is not a virtue in itself. It is merely a strategic choice, not unlike adopting a specific sales model or a financial strategy. And certainly, when properly understood and implemented, it is a powerful and beneficial tool. Unfortunately, management theorists and human resources professionals have made teamwork unconditionally desirable, something akin to being a good corporate citizen.
As a result, we see many of today’s champion managers adopt this theory without actually realizing what it entails. Take them in a corner, confide them, and ask them the truth – “Why do u actually follow team work? ” They would say – that’s the convention about employees in today’s organizational portfolio. Of course, none of this is to say that teamwork is not a worthy goal. There is no disputing that it is uniquely powerful, enabling groups of people to achieve more collectively than they could have imagined doing apart.
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However, the requirements of teamwork cannot be over hyped. Becoming a team is not necessarily right for every group of leaders. The fact is, building a leadership team is hard. What follows is a realistic description of what a group of managerial executives must be ready to do if they undertake the nontrivial task of becoming a team. Individual Work Vs Group Work You might ask which one according to me is better – Group Work or Individual Work? I would say Better is a relative term and also that Work per se is a glossary in itself.
Each and every type of work is unique in itself hence one can never predict or prove the magnitude of significance of either of the two. The importance of either is purely situation based. We can assume one thing safely, at least for accuracy tasks, groups perform better than individuals. The outcome of an accuracy task depends on the most competent member of the group. All it takes is one person who is correct, and the group will succeed. It follows from this idea that the more people who are working on a problem, the greater the odds are that someone will be competent enough to solve it.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the passage, group work is religiously practiced just because it is socially, politically and organizationally more famed than individualism. Being a part of the call centre industry for 2 yrs – let me quote an example which is close to my heart – A call centre typically has the following hierarchy in operations: CCM – TOM – TL – Customer Rep Let me elaborate – it has one call centre manager (CCM) who has more than 5 Team Operation Managers (TOM) in every section.
A TOM heads more than 10 TL’s each who further look after a team of at least 10 executives. Now keeping apart the organization culture and philosophy (which only sounds good in text books or countries like Japan), every executive will have his own philosophy and attitude towards work, his own objectives and his own agenda. Imagine a team which is consistently leading the floor for 6 months and in comes a new comer who is very low on job loyalty, a dimwit with a scarce motivation and stimulus to work.
Assuming that the team tries their best to get him on his feet and try every possible trick in the book to push him harder , he still keeps the team out of the top 5 for more than a quarter – what do u think happens to the loyalty and motivation of his coworkers in the team. Taking an exactly opposite scenario, muse over a very dedicated and overworking employee who gives his 200 % towards work everyday , he just gets disembarked to a team full of dimwits with an equally dimwit TL. What do u infer about his enthusiasm towards work?
This example is not only across the executive hierarchy – try and judge the above mentioned scenario among all chains of command. Can u imagine the utmost level of pandemonium, I am sure u can actually visualize this scenario in 3-D without even wearing 3D glasses. If you consider any organization – even after Democratic leadership being scribbled in bold on the Mission Statement – we all know that any leader always goes on his own gut instinct and verdict after taking a consensus from his team (this example is more inclined towards lower rungs of the hierarchy ladder).
People whose opinions are slightly considered and taken into account are very happy – but what about those who views are vomited back on them with interest in front of their team mates. Now consider a call centre with individuals working instead of a team, each individual given a certain target to meet and incentives proportional to the amount of the target mark crossed. The ones with enthusiasm will continue to work harder in order to achieve more recognition and incentive and the dimwits can be easily spotted in the stack and kicked off or retrained.
Each individual responsible for his own actions and rewards instead of a dimwit getting recognition just because his team is good. The worst part is in a team you can never be your own self but adapt yourself to the majority of the subordinates if you want to be accepted. An individual will always be considered at par with his group inspite of his individual competence. Why go far, consider our own college!!
Of all the group projects that I have been a part of till now – I have seen that only 2-3 of the entire 5 students work and slog to meet deadlines while the rest lay off by saying – I don’t have a PC at home or I have to participate in a fashion show. While individual projects like this one or computer assignments give you limitless boundaries to show off your ingenuity, they are even always submitted on time. I am more than content writing this blog and speaking my heart out. I may sound like a left front leader shouting slogans against globalization, but this is just the tip of the iceberg that’s going to break our corporate itanic into half. Take an opinion poll today in college and ask their preference towards Individual Work Vs Group Work – I bet that you will unearth all Brain Child’s and sincere students asking for working individually while all dimwits insisting for group work (Activities apart from assembly line work or physical work where group working is a must) Benefits of Team/Group Work • In group work, you can draw on each group member’s knowledge and perspectives, a better understanding of the class material for exams, labs, etc. • You can also draw on people’s different strengths.
For example, you might be a great analyst while someone else is much better at organizing papers. • Groups are great for motivation: they force you to be responsible to others and frequently, then, do more and better work on a project than you might when only responsible to yourself. • Group work helps keep you on task. It’s harder to delay when working with others. Benefits of Individual Work: • Main benefit is that the employee identifies himself/herself with the job and organization and this leads to improved motivation and enhanced task performance. It leads to reduced conflicts and thus stress, more commitment towards goals and better acceptance of change, improved communication. • It is almost a matter of common sense that human beings will take greater pride and pleasure in their work if they are allowed individual freedom in shaping policies and decision which affect their work – as compared to team consensus. Presume that groups do not perform better tasks than individuals – there would be little motivation to make groups at all. However people do work in groups, in fact they work in it so often that we tend to conclude that groups are a quintessential part of any organization.
To give another concrete example to harden my argument, consider a group of 10 with one member making an error (atleast one) – there would be an error rate of 10 % on the whole which is obviously unacceptable. Moreover as the number of people in the group increases and the amount of work decreases – productivity decreases as well. And if the task is unexciting, their minds may wander, or perhaps they talk among themselves. If this happens, the process variables are faulty. Things do not run as smoothly as they could. Thus, actual productivity equals potential productivity minus losses due to this “faulty” process.
If u make these same people work individually on a task – the summation of their individual productivity would be much higher. Just to cite one more example – imagine 5 female typists typing together in a group vs. the same typists typing alone in 5 different rooms. Given a time span of one hour, which fraction do you think will click to give maximum yield? On account of time and page constraints – let’s summarize the topic. We can now safely presume that team/group work devours much more time and resources as compared to individual work.
The former is not only less productive but also has more conflicts to be dealt with, higher communique hassle, and the most monotonous component is the number of meetings to be arranged for any job or discussion. Thus Group work is more pricey and less beneficial in the long run. The bottom-line on which I have stressed time and again is that team work is being brought in without reason by some managers into situations which can be more efficiently managed by individuals – just to keep up with the latest organizational trends