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Group Working: Advantages & Disadvantages
by Chris van der Leer on April 5th, 2017

A group (or team) is “two or more people who share a common definition and evaluation of themselves and behave in accordance with such a definition.” (Tuckman, 1965). 

​A group is not appropriate when any member of the team does not believe in the common goal or have the skills to contribute towards the outcome.

​The group working culture in New Zealand is quite unique, I have never working in formal, professional environment which are so laid back. However, in saying ghat, this formula seems to work very well in NZ because it encourages creativity and in some cases increases output from the group.
 
With this in mind, here are a few advantages and disadvantages of working in a group or team environment:
 
Advantages:
  1. Increased productivity and performance: Groups are great for efficiency. From a management perspective, getting a group of people to perform a task will ensure that it is done more quickly and with greater efficiency then if just one person attempted to perform the work effort.
  2. Knowledge sharing increases: By working in a group a more wide range of skills can be applied to practical activities.  Participants can share and discuss ideas to increase their understanding of a particular subject area. Sharing skills and experiences in a group setting means that more people will benefit from the knowledge.
  3. Personal development is encouraged: Group working encourages the development of skills. Interpersonal skills such as speaking and listening as well as team building skills such as leadership and motivating others can be developed in a group setting.
  4. Development of critical thinking skills: Group participation encourages the development of critical thinking skills because group members need to work together with other personalities to achieve a common outcome. This includes being humble and assertive as the situation requires.
  5. Working in a group can be more reliable: if a group member steps away it is likely that the job can still be done properly and efficiently by the remainder of the people in the group. If a person is working individually the tasks need to be performed solely by that person. This means that the goal is more likely to be achieved by a group then by an individual working on their own.
Disadvantages:
  1. Loss of creativity: A group environment requires individual’s to pool their creativity and find balance between their ideas. A true creative outcome will be difficult to achieve because all participants of the group will have input to the end result. This is also known as ‘group-think’.
  2. Team conflict: Naturally getting people to work together in a group environment can lead to friction between participants. In addition to this some individuals may not be compatible with team work and may prefer the autonomy of working on their own.
  3. Group working can be time-consuming: Getting consensus between a participants can be a time-consuming process. Decisions are likely to be made through debate and coordination, this tends to take time.
  4. Free -riding: It happens! Some individuals may work harder than others; the group environment allows the less productive group members to hide behind the output of the team. It is likely that unequal participation occurs in the group environment potentially causing resentment between other group members.
  5. Conflicting priorities: Each group member will have their own motives for being a member of the group. This means that they have a vested interest and could consider their input or output more important than that of other group members. These conflicting priorities can be difficult to resolve and can lead to some work effort being performed faster than others.
There are northers, however these are the primary points I look for.
​This article is taken from a paper written by Chris van der Leer on the development of group processes. It is licensed under CC BY 2.0. This means that you are free to license and adapt the contents of this article by giving credit to the original author.


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