Teamwork in the Workplace

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of working in teams? By reference to relevant theory show how can the disadvantages be reduced or avoided.

A team is a group of people working together to achieve the same objectives. Katzenbach and Smith state in their report The Discipline of Teams (1993) that ‘the essence of a team is common commitment. Without it, groups perform as individuals; with it, they become a powerful unit of collective performance.’ Throughout this study, I will analyse the many different advantages and disadvantages of working in teams and its effects on team members and their performance and commitment within the team. I will consider many different aspects of team work and refer to certain established theories in attempt to find ways of reducing or avoiding some of the disadvantages that will be discussed. These ideas will be further developed throughout the study.

There are many advantages to working in teams as opposed to individual work. Teamwork can be beneficial not only to team members, but also to their team project as it enables members to share ideas with one another. It is suggested by Fincham and Rhodes (2005) that synergy occurs because discussion within groups generates more alternatives than individuals, tends to eliminate inferior contributions, averages out errors, and supports creative thinking. This indicates that team members can brainstorm ideas together and analyse what are the best decisions to make in order to improve the results of their task. Each member may have very different ideas to share with the rest of the team, this means that the team project will be scrutinised more closely and any parts of the work which may not have been clear can be improved. As team members strive to come to some sort of consensus about what action to take, there must be a thorough decision process taking place in order for everyone to share their views and opinions.

Another advantage that team work generates is the opportunity to build relationships with team members. Teamwork fulfils the affiliative needs of individuals as discovered by Sheldon and Bettencourt (2002). These affiliative needs are the need to be included and the need for relatedness as described by Fincham and Rhodes (2005). In establishing relationships with team members, individuals may begin to feel more comfortable in sharing ideas with the group. It creates a sense of unity amongst team members as they all aim to achieve the same result. This can be more interesting for individuals as the social aspect of team working can make the task seem like less work. Peter Levin suggests in his book Successful Teamwork! (2005) that, you can get the same kind of bonding, exhilaration and mutual support and appreciation in an academic team as in a sports team. This therefore indicates that by having positive ‘’collaborative’’ relationships within the team, team members can help each other with the work and can also make the experience more enjoyable. When members enjoy the work, they are more motivated to be involved in the team work which will ultimately, hopefully improve the final result of the team project.

Team work also develops the skills of its members. It allows team members to expand their ability to debate ideas, work with others and delegate certain tasks. Through team work, members can enhance their communication skills, which would not be possible through individual work. It is vital to have interaction with one another in teamwork, without this, the team will not be effective. Another benefit that you’ll get from working in a team is that it will give you a wider appreciation of ‘learning’. You’ll see that the ability to work creatively and effectively in a team is a ‘skill for learning’ as well as a ‘skill for employability.’ Levin (2005) He suggests here that by improving these vital skills through teamwork, one may become more employable, simply because employers value such skills and often require...
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