“Are you a team player?”
It’s a question that is often asked during an interview. Employers seek leaders, but they also seek people who can work with a group. That’s because group work is often seen as an advantageous experience. The same perspective is seen in classrooms and training seminars as well. Group work helps everyone learn or complete a project simultaneously while still feeling like they’ve had a personalized experience.
There are many benefits to group work, but not every person working in a group sees the practice as beneficial. Here are the key points to consider.
What Are the Pros of Group Work?
1. It offers a chance to have shared ideas.
People can have extraordinarily brilliant ideas. Now put a bunch of people together and you’ve just increased the odds of having a brilliant idea. The difference is that instead of an epiphany occurring, brilliant ideas can be built from scratch as people bounce ideas off of one another to analyze a situation. The end result tends to be a shared idea that creates better efficiencies for working and learning.
2. More hands make work easier.
It isn’t just efficiency that happens when group work is emphasized. Having a group of people tasked with getting a specific job done helps to lighten the load on everyone. With extra hands available, even complicated jobs tend to become easy. This results in cost savings opportunities, faster learning experiences, and a better overall quality of work being completed.
3. It shores up the weak areas that individuals have.
There are strengths and weaknesses in every person. By working in a team environment, one person’s weaknesses can be offset by another person’s strengths. This allows each member of the team to contribute on an individual level, feeling like they’re important to the end result being developed. It also means that people are less likely to experience failure and even when they do, the rest of the team can pick that person up.
4. It improves relationships.
Whether in the classroom or the office, cliques will always be part of life. People tend to hang around other people with shared interests. By creating an environment where group work is emphasized, different people from different cliques can support each other, get to know each other, and increase the overall morale of the group. The improved relationships then create ongoing benefits as everyone grows more comfortable with each other and looks to help one another.
What Are the Cons of Group Work?
1. People can get lost in the shuffle.
Although the strengths of each person are encouraged to be on display, this doesn’t always happen. People can feel like they get lost in the shuffle of group work, especially if there is a vocal leader amongst the team. Someone might have a great idea, but be afraid to say it because of a vocal leader trashing the idea and encouraging others to go a different way. This is especially problematic if a person’s weakness is in the area of social interactions.
2. It can encourage social interactions over work requirements.
When people get together, there is a certain expectation that some social interactions are going to occur. Sometimes these interactions can become the focus of the group instead of the work. Time flies when holding a cup of coffee or laughing about what happened in class that day. When that happens, no work is going to get done. That’s a guarantee.
3. People don’t always stick around to get the results.
Sometimes the disadvantages of a study group seem to outweigh the advantages on an individual level. It isn’t uncommon for people to put in some group work, feel like they are getting nothing back in return, and so this causes them to abandon the group. When this happens, they don’t get to see the desired results for which they were working, often putting them at a disadvantage to the rest of the team.
4. There can be a fight for leadership.
Most groups come to a single leader consensus. If there is a battle for this position, then the fight of leadership can put ego first instead of the work first. The rest of the group isn’t going to work without the leadership situation getting sorted out, which means the end result will always be lost productivity. Sometimes this can be avoided by appointing a leader as the group is being established.
The pros and cons of group work show that it can be a cost-effective method of learning and accomplishing personal responsibilities. As long as there are plans in place to counter the disadvantages of this system, everyone can benefit from being a team player.
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