The Teamwork Trap

Teamwork advocates will tell us that working as a team is the solution to all of our performance challenges. I’m not so sure. I think it depends on the situation or challenge.

Back in the 1800’s, when settlers were moving westwards across North America, they hired scouts who would head out in advance and collect intelligence on the route. What dangers and resources existed out there? What alternative routes existed? These scouts would then speed back with the information and hand it over to the “team”. Their role was essential to the survival of the “team”, but they were loners, and not at all interested in teamwork. They just did their job, got paid and eventually headed back east to work with (not join) another team of westward bound settlers.

What we can learn from this is that some tasks do not require teamwork, but rather an accomplished performance from an individual. And in some cases, this individual performer can be essential to the survival of your team.

Avoiding the Teamwork Trap
What we need to do then is identify the tasks that require a lone, accomplished performer and those that require teamwork in your team. Don’t get hung up on having everything done as a team…you will alienate those individual performers who may very well be essential to your team’s survival.