Why I am confused about teamwork?

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After six years of working professionally in teams, I often question teamwork. Here are the few issues and questions I have in mind:

  • Look any job description you want: You are required to be a good team player, but most of the time your performance is evaluated by the work you do on your own. Your contributions to team are mostly overlooked.
  • Do we really always need to be a team player? There are many positions and jobs that do not require teamwork and there are many people who cannot be good team players by nature: impatient, introvert, inflexible, insistent. The list can get longer but I stop here.
  • Teamwork is not appropriate for certain tasks and might cause a lot of waste of time and energy. It is not always the most effective way of getting things done.
  • Think about how much time you should invest to form and build a team and make it function properly. Are you ready to take this challenge? Teams need a good facilitator/moderator or leader and working in a team without one might be very problematic.
  • You are expected to work in teams at your professional life and generally you do not get to choose the team members you work with until you reach certain seniority.
  • We live in a world where leaders take all the credit. We always discuss how to grow into a leader. We associate leadership with certain personal qualities and achievements. Our education and work experience push us to turn into self-centered individualistic people and then expect us to be good team players.
  • You aim to achieve an objective through teamwork but in my experience once the objective is achieved teams and management tend to ignore what did not work very well and only concentrate on the success. There should be mechanisms for team members to give feedback to each other (including team leader) even the team achieves the goal. These feedbacks should be taken into consideration otherwise team members end up with demotivation and frustration.

All in all, I want to emphasis that I am not saying that I am against teamwork. I agree with Henry Ford who said ‘Coming together is a beginning, staying together is a process and working together is success’. Teamwork can create a magical synergy, creativity and effectiveness for certain (not all) tasks if well planned and coordinated. We should be aware that a good teamwork requires time and effort, a participatory approach, good facilitation and evaluation.

by Derya Kaya