Disadvantages of Working as a Team and How to Overcome Them
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published May 16, 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Working as a team has many advantages and disadvantages, especially when it involves a large project. Even though a project may get completed faster with more people working on it, the presence of many team members can affect project completion if not checked properly. It's critical to understand the advantages and disadvantages of teamwork to ensure everyone works well together. In this article, we explore the disadvantages of working as a team and discuss ways to resolve them.
What are the disadvantages of working as a team?
Understanding the disadvantages of working as a team can help reduce the impact of any challenges that may occur. For instance, group work may lead to communication issues, resistance to direction from managers or leaders, delays in project timelines, and an inability to identify which team members contributed to a project. It's essential for team leaders to avoid these disadvantages by fostering collaboration, communication, and problem solving among team members.
Ten disadvantages to consider when working as a team
Individual team members in a work environment often have different personality types and backgrounds. It's essential for a team leader to identify these differences and strategize about ways to incorporate them when assigning tasks to complete projects. Here are the disadvantages of group work and some coping strategies:
1. Performance preference problems
One of the first disadvantages to group work is the individual personalities and work styles of the diverse team members. Some people work well in a group environment. For them, brainstorming with others can boost energy levels and encourage collaboration. There are others who prefer to work alone and may feel pressure when team collaboration comes up. These employees prefer independence and may produce quality work quickly when left alone to complete tasks.
There are also employees who work slowly and at their own pace, even when part of a team. This can become a disadvantage if they don't contribute to group work and allow others to handle the difficult parts of a project. To improve project performance, it's important to distinguish these employees from team members who have an independent work style. Because these two personality types often struggle to work together, separating them helps reduce tension in the team.
2. Difficulty conducting proper performance evaluation
Performance evaluation is one of the more challenging aspects of working in teams. It can be difficult for team leaders or managers to determine each team member's responsibilities accurately or know just how much every team member contributed to the task outcome. For instance, employees who contribute less can cause friction within a team as the entire team may work harder to ensure the project is completed on time.
Team members who put the group first and do what it takes to complete the project may be difficult to identify and thus evaluate. For instance, they may do the majority of the work but allow the entire team to enjoy the success, even those who didn't contribute as much time or effort. It's beneficial for a team leader to keep detailed records of each member's specific role, assess their relative strengths and weaknesses, and examine individuals who contributed the most work.
3. Stagnates innovation and brainstorming
Another disadvantage of working as a team is that there may be less brainstorming. Having multiple team members in a brainstorming session conducted in an optimal setting can produce creative ideas. Team members with creative ideas may choose to hide them, especially if there are biases among the team. For instance, a leader with preferred teammates may acknowledge and validate the suggestions provided by certain employees and ignore ideas from others.
Some teams are at risk of having one member who feels so strongly about their idea that they may attempt to get attention at the expense of others. Other team members may decide to refrain from contributing any further ideas, causing brainstorming activities to stall or lose momentum.
4. Resistance to instructions
Individual team members may perform activities that aren't in line with the organization's mission or objectives. The entire team takes the blame when only one team member deviates from the company's rules. A team may lose its credibility when it does not consistently follow the management's instructions. This can also waste time as certain team members may repeat parts of the project not done properly. To reduce the chances of this happening, it's ideal for the team leads to keep track of each individual's tasks and ensure they match the overall goals and direction.
Related: 10 Common Leadership Styles
5. Communication gaps
The presence of team members with different personalities and communication styles can sometimes lead to delays in communication. For example, teammates with a passive communication style may not interact with other team members, while those with a proactive communication style connect with others and disseminate information quickly. A team leader can use their understanding of different communication styles to decide how to handle information. For instance, they may choose to pass information to a proactive team member when they want instant dissemination of the information to meet project deadlines.
6. Extended project timelines
Interruptions and misunderstandings can impact the way a team performs and the overall project timeline. Every time a team stops and clarifies or resolves a communication gap, it can delay the project. Missed milestone dates and extended project timelines are some of the costliest disadvantages of working as a team, which project managers and team leaders often work hard to avoid.
Team meetings can also impact project timelines. Unnecessary team meetings can lead to lengthy discussions or more meetings being held. Team leaders can choose to use collaborative e-mails instead of calling a meeting to save time, allowing the team to complete project milestones more efficiently.
7. Division within a team
Individuals with similar personalities may associate with one another, which can lead to clusters within a team. It's beneficial for the team leader to carefully and intentionally understand the personality type of each team member. This requires close interaction with each person on the team. It's crucial to assign team members with different personalities tasks to motivate them to learn how to work with one another. This strengthens bonds and enables team members to work together towards a common goal. A unified team is more likely to commit to project execution and completion.
Related: How to Lead Through a Crisis
8. Requires patience and large capital
The initial phase of bringing individuals together is associated with lots of challenges such as conflict of personalities and team members who are not able to achieve set deliverables. The project leader may spend time and funds training and re-training team members to boost their capabilities. The investment of resources can vary depending on the complexity of the tasks, skills, and experience level of each team member. To help leaders save time and reduce the cost of training, it's essential to determine the specific requirements of each team before selecting team members.
9. Uneven responsibilities
Some team members may rely on those who are more productive, efficient, and effective in task completion. This creates unequal levels of responsibility because some team members may feel overworked while others may not add value to the task and can sometimes cause more challenges for other team members.
A team leader can address this issue by pairing team members together so that every member contributes to accomplishing tasks. This allows them to work in pairs and mandates each person to submit tasks for evaluation consistently. Monitoring and tracking what each member contributes to the team is essential for project success and ensures that leaders can divide responsibilities equally. Assigning tasks to suit each team member's strengths can also help with efficiency and fairness.
10. Delays in initiating projects
Individuals in a team have different strengths, skills, education, and experiences relative to a project. Leaders may often decide to train the whole team, even if some team members have the necessary skills. This can have an impact on the pace at which a project commences. To ensure skill levels are more balanced, a team leader can set a list of criteria before recruiting a team so that its members have similar skill sets and levels of experience.
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