Is Teamwork Always Best?

In business, as in sports, sometimes you need the collective effort of a team and other times the specialised expertise of an individual. However, unlike sports, workplaces need to effectively switch between these two work-modes to reap the benefits each provides.

So, how do you decide when to deploy a team or commission an individual to get the job done? WorkScore weighs in on the best times to rely on each.

Solo flight

Sure, the very best tennis players have teams of other professionals behind them. But when crunch time comes, it’s down to the individual player to draw on their expertise and deliver the win.

For businesses, it’s good to remember that if one specialist suitably accomplishes a task, avoid getting a group involved. Think software developers, accountants or graphic designers and other creatives. These professionals do their best work alone. While the support of others may be required to enable task completion, the actual work benefits more from solo attention versus ‘too-many-cooks’.

Interestingly, research suggests that just the task of figuring out how others could be helpful in completing a job can undermine motivation. I may also lead some to delay action until some point in the future, thinking there’s someone else who’ll pick up the work anyway. True, this won’t be the case every time, but it implies the importance of respecting an individual’s need to make a valuable contribution.

Teamwork time

A sports team’s success or failure depends largely on how the rest of the side supports star players. Just because someone is excellent, doesn’t mean they do all the work, right?

Alarmingly for businesses, corporate burnout is affecting the mental health of 20 per cent of the UK’s top performing business leaders. That’s where teamwork comes to the rescue. Teams can carry out tasks that don’t need your high-performers’ full attention.

But be warned, while variety adds a depth of skills, knowledge and experience in a group, it needs balance. If there’s a significant experience and skills gap between team members, the more practised ones may be relied on to do too many tasks. Not good news for preventing work burnout!

Teamwork can also help squash an aggressive work culture. According to research, some prefer to work solo as it feeds their competitive nature. A leaning towards solo-work could tip the balance in favour of highly-ambitious ones. It’s essential to recognise team effort and encourage achieving goals as a group rather than solely rewarding based on individual merit.

Strike the right balance! Know when to let your star players shine and when to harness the collaborative contribution of well-formed teams. You’ll not only score goals but also protect your people from work burnout.