The majority of the working world needs to work with others as a part of their job. Whether you’re an employee, a manager, or a business owner, you’re more than likely going to have to work with other people on a daily basis. Even professionals like artists, who for the most part, work solo, have to work with clients, suppliers etc. And just like with most things in life, there are the highs and there are the lows that come with working with others.
A recent survey by the University of Phoenix found that 95% of employees feel strongly that teamwork is very important in the workplace, but less than a quarter of employees prefer to work in a team. This just goes to show that teamwork and working with others can be very challenging.
Covid-19 has definitely put additional strain on matters when it comes to working with others. During the nationwide lockdowns many teams were forced to work remotely using highly popularised communication apps such as Zoom. While some people preferred this type of collaboration, it was a major challenge for others.
In this article we’ll have a look at some of the highs and lows that come with working with others, as well as some tips and advice for productive teamwork and collaboration.
The highs of working with others
Despite the well known challenges of working with others, there are still many joys that can come with working in a team, and they are often realised through having the right attitude towards working with others.
There is nothing quite like having high team morale on a team, where team members are encouraging each other, helping each other, and sharing an overall positive energy with one another. Team morale can be difficult to curate, but often comes with having a carefully-selected team in place and investing in team building workshops.
Some of the very best ideas come from collaboration. One person comes up with the initial idea and others build on it until it becomes fully formed. Having a team surrounding you also gives you the opportunity to bounce your ideas off of others and ask for feedback, advice, and so forth. Having people around you, whose opinions you trust, can be exceptionally valuable no matter what industry you’re in.
Time can go faster
It may seem insignificant, but the work day can really drag on sometimes, and being surrounded by a great team can really help the day go faster. Being surrounded by others and enjoying some office chit chat can shorten your day in the office, and get you home in what feels like sooner.
Meeting like-minded people
Working with others, in a team environment, may give you the opportunity to meet like-minded people who have the same or similar interests as you. These people may even turn into friends outside of the workplace, and become people that you can discuss certain ideas with.
Learn from one another
One of the best things about working in a team that is made up of a highly diverse group of people is the fact that you have the opportunity to learn about things that you may not have had the opportunity to in other circumstances. You may learn different techniques and better ways of doing things, and be introduced to new ideologies.
Team members there to help if you are not feeling your best
If you are having a bit of an off day and you work in a team, your team members are there to help you and pick up some of your slack. While you should not make it a regular thing, you should be able to rely on those who you work with to help you when you need it.
The lows of working with others
Now we come to the lows. Unfortunately the lows can often outweigh the highs and that is why so many people are averse to working with others and in teams. Some of the most common lows of working with others include:
In any workplace environment, there are bound to be disagreements. While disagreements are not entirely bad (as they can lead to better outcomes and better ways of doing things), disagreements that become very aggressive or personal, can make the workplace a very uncomfortable place to be. Words can not be unsaid, and one big disagreement could upset your entire work life.
One person dragging down the entire team
A team is only as strong as its weakest link, and you could have a truly cohesive team that works wonderfully together but is dragged down by just one person who is not pulling their weight. This is truly a pity when this happens and can be very frustrating for the rest of the team.
Unfortunately nepotism and favouritism in the workplace is still very prevalent, despite efforts to get rid of it. Nepotism and favouritism can be very subtle and hard to pinpoint, but can make other team members feel undervalued, unfairly treated, and disgruntled. It is very important that everyone is treated fairly and given equal opportunities no matter their relation or appeal to those in charge.
Humans are emotional beings and emotions can tend to run high in the workplace. If you are someone who is an empath, and takes on others’ emotions, you may find working with others to be extremely emotionally draining. It can be difficult to build up walls against others’ emotions, but it is important that you do so in order to focus on your work.
If you have a team surrounding you, you may find your workplace environment very distracting. Some people may play music, others may be chatting to one another, someone else may be eating loudly. You may get annoyed by how aggressively the person next to you is typing. While workplace guidelines aim at eliminating distractions, they are still bound to pop up. Distractions can be very frustrating, and can hinder you from getting your work done in stipulated time frames.
When people bring personal drama and the workplace together it is a surefire recipe for disaster. As much as personal matters are advised to be left at the door, they are bound to creep in one way or another. All employees have lives outside of work and have their own personal struggles that they are dealing with.
Tips for working with others
While working with others is definitely challenging, there are ways in which you can make working with others more cohesive and enjoyable for everyone involved. Some tips for working with others include:
Get to know your team
Get to know the people that you work with. You don’t have to dig deep into their ancient history but get to know their personalities and how they work so that you can learn what to expect from them. Now that their behaviour is not as unpredictable to you, you can learn how to work with them instead of against them.
Treating the people that you work with with respect, and respecting their boundaries should honestly be the bare minimum in any workplace environment. This means not getting into anyone’s personal space, not treating anyone inappropriately, and not mocking anyone’s looks, behaviours, or beliefs. While these things may seem commonplace and obvious to you, there are many issues that arise from disrespect of others’ boundaries.
Avoid personal matters
When it comes to the workplace, personal matters should be left at the door. Personal issues are probably one of the biggest causes of problems in the workplace. This is why it is important to have a team that is made up of mature individuals that know how to separate their work life from their personal life, even under challenging circumstances.
Understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses
When everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are known, it is easy to delegate tasks and know who would be best at doing what. It is important to get to know the people that you have working around you and their experience, skill, knowledge, and capabilities. Only through knowing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses will you get the most out of your team and working with others,
Communication is not just about talking, it is also about listening to one another, and giving everyone a chance to speak. Clear lines of communication are essential, and team members should be made to feel that their opinions matter, and that they can speak up whether they want to express their ideas or have a complaint.
Vague instructions can be a true enemy of team cohesion. In order to work well with others, there needs to be structure in place. Everyone should know what they are responsible for, what times meetings are, who they need to be collaborating with, who holds positions of seniority etc. Cohesive group dynamics usually boil down to effective leadership, so ensure that you have trustworthy management in place that has the team’s best interests at heart.
Being selective with who you employ
If you are a business owner or someone who is responsible for employing new team members, you should be very selective about who you bring onto the team. One bad egg can upset the entire chicken coop. What many employers look for in potential employees is someone who will gel well in the workplace environment, and who is a team player, and necessarily someone who has the very best credentials. Team cohesion should always be prioritised when employing new team members and deciding who you want to work with.
Working alone: the highs and lows
There are not many jobs that allow you to work totally solo, and almost every profession requires you to work with others at some point or other. But there are a few ways to work solo for the most part if you’re a freelancer or a small business owner.
While this article is about working with others, we thought we’d share some insight in working with others. Some of the highs of working alone include:
- Peace and quiet
- Control over how things are done
- No time wasted in meetings, discussing things etc.
- You can manage your own time
- Freedom and flexibility
Some of the lows of working alone include:
- No one to bounce ideas off of
- No team morale
When you’re a business owner and you’re working with a partner, many of the same tips that we have mentioned in this article apply. You need to have clear communication, respect boundaries, and avoid personal matters. But you also need to ensure that the partnership contract that you have drawn up between the both of you is respected and upheld. Be very careful when writing out this contract. Everything should be legal and formal, as informal partnership agreements can lead to one partner taking advantage of the other, and blurred lines when it comes to money and responsibilities.
When the team is not working well together
When you are having problems within your team, this could cause many problems in your business. There may be a drop of productivity and in severe cases you may have quality employees resign. So it is very important that employee matters are treated with seriousness. The best way to do this is through having a qualified and experienced HR rep on your team. If you can’t afford to employ a full-time HR rep, you can always make use of an HR consultant on a contractual basis. They will know the best ways to sort out employee issues, boost team morale, and create teamwork programs that work!
In conclusion, working with others definitely comes with a wide variety of challenges which are oftentimes unavoidable. But if you adopt the right attitude and practice patience, understanding, and clear communication, you could enjoy all of the highs that come with working alongside others. There is so much to learn from working with other people, and the value and insight that this gives you is truly priceless!