19 Disadvantages of Working as a Team (And How To Overcome Them)
When teams work together successfully, they can create innovative solutions, produce higher-quality deliverables and benefit from a more collaborative working environment. There can be disadvantages to teamwork, too. Understanding some setbacks teams may experience can help you overcome common challenges of working as a team. In this article, we explain why companies use teams to complete their work, list some of the common disadvantages of working as part of a team and provide tips you can use to improve the effectiveness of your teams.
Why do companies have work teams?
Companies have work teams because teams can often accomplish larger projects that are too challenging for a single person to complete alone. By combining multiple skill sets, experience levels and ideas, teams can achieve amazing results. Many companies enjoy the benefits of successful teams, like increased productivity, closer working relationships and improved quality of their products and services.
19 disadvantages of working as a team
While there can be many advantages to working as part of a team, there can be challenges too. Here are some of the potential disadvantages you might encounter while working with a team:
1. Not everyone contributes equally
One potential disadvantage of working as a team is that not everyone puts in the same level of effort. Some team members might not contribute new ideas, complete their assignments on time or contribute positively to projects. Completing extra work on behalf of an unmotivated team member can take valuable time and effort away from a project and can lead to resentment. It’s important to have healthy communication within the team so that if someone isn’t providing value, they can receive feedback and change their attitude or behavior.
2. Leaders might not recognize individual contributions
Another potential downside of teamwork is that it’s often challenging to see each person’s individual contributions. Even if you did most of the work on a project or if your contribution was exceptional, you might not receive individual praise. Instead, the entire team might receive praise, or the person who delivered a final project or presented an idea might get the credit. It’s important for managers to understand team dynamics so they can give individuals praise for their specific contributions.
3. Some personalities are challenging to work with
Teamwork can also be challenging if there are conflicting personalities on the team. Some team members might be overly negative, domineering or rude. Learning to handle multiple personalities can make your interactions on a team more productive. If a single individual consistently interferes with the team’s efforts, it’s important to address concerns with them directly or with a supervisor.
4. You might not like others’ ideas
Sometimes, teamwork can produce increased innovation and collaboration. Other times, the team might decide to pursue an idea that doesn’t excite you. This can be a natural occurrence of working with a team, and it’s important to find opportunities to contribute, even if the overall idea wasn’t your first choice. Instead of searching for reasons an idea won’t work, focus on ways it can. You can make suggestions that improve the overall idea and make you feel more invested in the project.
5. Others might not like your ideas
You may find that the team consistently dismisses your ideas. It’s sometimes challenging to work on a team that won’t acknowledge the value of your contributions. While you can’t expect to present a winning idea or suggestion every time, having others consistently reject your contributions can be disheartening. Try talking with a manager or supervisor about your frustrations. They might have ideas for ways you can better fit in with the team.
6. It can be difficult to share your opinion
Some team members might have loud personalities or frequently dominate the conversation. If this happens or if sharing your suggestions makes you feel too vulnerable, see if there are alternative ways you can contribute. You could send your ideas in an email, present them in a smaller group or discuss them with a supervisor. Encourage yourself to speak up even if you feel shy amongst more confident members of your team. Likely, people want to hear what you have to say.
7. You have to accommodate others’ timelines
Working with a team can sometimes present scheduling conflicts. Finding times everyone can meet or coordinate check-ins can extend the length of a project. It’s important for teams to prioritize regular meetings so they can find time to align their activities and look for collaboration opportunities. Try to keep weekly or bi-weekly meetings on the calendar that everyone commits to attending. By establishing consistent meeting times, it can be easier to ensure you’re connecting with one another regularly.
8. You may get blamed for something you didn’t do
When working with other people, not everyone has the same sense of integrity and ownership. Some might work to escape blame by misrepresenting others’ actions or behaviors. Similarly, if you’re a team leader, you may have to take responsibility for someone else’s error, even if the mistake wasn’t your fault. It’s important to remember that acting with integrity and taking responsibility, even when you have a viable excuse, can ultimately improve your reputation and increase others’ trust in you.
9. You might not produce something you’re proud of
Working with a team on a project or goal can mean depending on others to produce work that’s the same quality as your own. Sometimes, others might not place as much pride in their work. Your team’s product won’t always be something you’re proud of creating. It’s important to focus on your individual efforts and to remember that you ultimately don’t have control over the actions of your team members. It’s up to those in leadership roles to elevate team members and hold everyone to equal standards.
10. You might feel affected by negative attitudes
Some team members might bring down the overall mood of the team. One potential disadvantage of working as a team is that others’ moods can affect your own morale and productivity. Consistently working with a coworker who doesn’t contribute ideas, frequently espouses negativity or complains about others on the team, can be challenging. Over time, their attitude can have a negative impact on your own mood and work.
Realize that lots of things contribute to poor moods. Personal problems, insecurities or illness could lead to their poor attitude. Try to be empathetic to those on your team and maintain a sense of positivity, even when others aren’t providing validation. If the coworker is rude or disrespectful to others on the team, it might warrant a conversation with your supervisor.
11. It’s harder to change a plan
Working on a team can mean once you have momentum on a project or have established processes, it can be harder to initiate change. Others might be reluctant to undo completed work or to alter a process with which they’re familiar. Try to encourage an environment of efficiency, open communication and team member initiative. Being open and willing to change can help teams improve ineffective or outdated activities.
12. It can get political
Whenever a group of people works together, politics can affect productivity and relationships. Some people might form alliances, and others might be favorites not for their efforts or merit, but for unrelated reasons like familial ties, perceived popularity or shared beliefs. Navigating office politics can sometimes prove challenging, but it’s important to always act with integrity in your own work.
13. Some team members might be too competitive
Work teams can produce and involve many personality types. Some people on your team might be competitive and eager to receive praise or to produce the most. Often, working with competitive team members can feel overwhelming. They might not make good team players because they’re more concerned with their own status and reputation.
14. Team work can reduce productivity
Sometimes, teams can get along too well. It might be challenging to get work done because teams are more focused on socializing. You can use agendas to keep teams focused and to ensure you accomplish everything you want to in a meeting.
15. It can be harder to get organized
If you rely on someone else for updates, information or important data, it can sometimes be difficult to complete your own assignments on time. Organizing projects and activities might take more effort when you’re worried about a team rather than your own actions alone. It can help you incorporate deadlines, so everyone completes their portion of a project on time.
16. Some teams have unhealthy power dynamics
Some people assume they’re the better fit to lead or that they have the best ideas. Equals within a team might assert power over others even if they’re not in a more senior position. It’s important for teams to work together and to support one another, rather than having one person try to micromanage or control the actions of others.
17. It’s harder to receive specific feedback
Getting infrequent or impersonal feedback can be another disadvantage of working in a team. Leaders might not understand your unique contributions or the effort you put into completing a project. It’s important for leaders to understand the processes and duties of their team members. Learning how each is supporting the whole can help them give praise where it’s deserved and to better understand how the team works together.
18. It can take longer to complete projects
Some team members might be busier than others, and some might work more slowly or need more guidance in their work. Waiting for team members to complete their portion of an assignment can sometimes delay projects and cause frustration. If you know a team member is struggling, you can offer to help them or give them strategies for completing their work faster.
19. You might receive an assignment that doesn’t suit you
Often, in group projects, teams divide responsibilities among the individuals in the group. Sometimes, these divisions aren’t equal and they might not match your preferred work style. Even when this happens, it’s important to view unwelcome projects as learning opportunities. You might discover a skill you didn’t know you had.
Tips for creating effective work teams
Here are some additional tips that can help you overcome the disadvantages of teamwork so you can work more effectively with your team:
Learn to communicate effectively
Communication is one of the most important aspects of successful teamwork. Communicating can help you resolve challenges before they become obstacles, express discomfort or needs and help others understand your ideas or strategies. Learning to communicate effectively can take time and practice, but mastering it can improve the success and functionality of your team.
Focus on producing high-quality work
Ultimately, the only team member you can control is yourself. While it’s important to alert leaders if a team member’s actions or behavior become inappropriate or unsafe, try to focus on your own work and contributions. It’s often easy to get distracted by another team member, but staying free of office drama can attract the attention of supervisors and help you elevate your career.
Try to build relationships with your team
Successful teams often have trust in one another, respect for each other’s ideas and appreciation for others’ contributions. To encourage this environment, try to grow your professional relationships. Be helpful when you can, express positive feelings and words of encouragement and try to get to know others at work. By developing your relationships with your team members, you can facilitate a better office environment that’s more understanding and productive.