Advantages and Disadvantages of Collaboration in the Workplace Work environment for the 21th century is tougher and more team-oriented than before. This research will discuss the disadvantages and advantages of collaboration in the workplace. Team work is a requirement for employees in many companies; this is also called Collaboration. Collaboration is a way for a group of people to work with each other to get to an end goal. With collaboration you have advantages and disadvantages, but in the end you have a project that is unique and well thought out, with different ideas mixed together.
Advantages of collaboration are as follows: Motivation, Coordination, Problem-solving, and Decision making. The Disadvantages of collaboration are as follows: workloads are not equal, unclear of the purpose, no communication, different backgrounds, and understanding of information. There is a great deal of advantages to using teams in a business setting. Teamwork inspires motivation, a higher level of coordination, better problem-solving methods, and an improved decision-making process. These advantages can produce excellent results for any project. Ask anyone who has ever played a team sport.
They will tell you how much more motivated they were when they had a strong team working together toward a common goal. Teams help individuals interact on a personal level and feel more connected to the mission at hand. As they work together they build on each other’s strengths and help fill weaknesses. People need to have a way of connecting to and owning the process in order to truly succeed. In a team effort we can lean on each other and use our teammate’s experiences in order to reach our personal goals (Lee, 2001). As a team matures they start to learn what each person does well, and where a person needs some help.
Knowing each member’s strengths lets us work on what we need to do, while we know that our team member has their portion taken care of. This builds a web of trust and collaboration that is lacking in most non-team oriented business models. If a person hits a mental block, he or she has help they can rely on. This cultivates a willingness to continue on, and promotes an individual to reach out for help faster than someone who may not know where to turn normally. When a person knows they are not alone they are less likely to be overwhelmed (Cross, Ehrlich, Dawson, & Helferich, 2008). A team effort focuses the efforts of many or a common goal. Many companies that utilize multiple contact points often have issues providing a unified solution. Teams may not have one point of contact, but the information is shared more freely and coordination is stronger, providing a more focused result. With a team you have many points of expertise focused to accomplish the coordinated goal. In a business model not team-oriented you still have each area of expertise but priorities get lost. Each area may feel as the key player and not share information causing a misaligned solution (Cross, Ehrlich, Dawson, & Helferich, 2008).
By bringing all of these resources into one team, areas can be accessed simultaneously; balancing resources and making sure all aspects are viewed equally. Looking at the sports model, a team that has an overdeveloped offense may not have the resources to adequately develop the defense. When an unbalance like this is created, the team will most likely fall short of the goal. Coordinating all aspects of the problem is the only way to ensure that you provide the best solution to any given problem. Problem solving is a direct result of conflict resolution. Without conflict all possible solutions are simply not explored.
All good problem-solving teams will have a healthy amount of conflict. This conflict usually comes from diversity. Individuals with different life experiences, different expertise, and different ways of thinking make better problem-solving teams. The key is to have a team that simply resolves the conflicts logically (Lee, 2001). Many teams are formed to reach a specific goal. This goal becomes the main conflict. The team works logically to reach the best solution for that goal. In this, the expertise of each member comes into play. We have unique life experiences that play into how we look at a problem.
This causes an internal conflict within the team itself. Good teams will break down each approach to the problem and utilize portions of all the input that most logically applies to the situation at hand. The team learns from each point of view. Each thought process is evaluated and applied to the problem. When working as an individual, you only have your own experiences and knowledge to draw from. To think that you know everything there is to know about any given situation is failure. To truly find the best possible solution to any problem you have to be able to look at problems from angles that you may not be familiar with.
This is why teams are so effective at problem-solving (Fredrick, 2008). Many times outside of the use of teams, decision making is done quickly. There are definitely times where a quick sudden decision must be made at all levels. However, in most cases decisions within teams take more time. More information is flooded at the decision at hand before that final decision is made. Making any decision based on little or no information is a bad decision because of the shared knowledge inherent in teams; the decisions have more weight and are usually better (Lee, 2001).
During the collaboration and problem-solving portion of a team’s process, information is presented from as many viewpoints as possible. These points of view allow for the team to analyze the information before making any rash decisions. The collective knowledge of the group is presented as possible solutions to the decisions of the group. A team leader is key in providing focus and maintaining the goal of the group. Mature teams will work together as they move to a final decision. This goes hand-in-hand with the problem-solving skills of the team.
As they logically analyze the information presented they can make the best decisions as the group moves forward to their goals (Fredrick, 2008). When in a workplace, and a team is assigned a project there can be some disadvantages to this. Disadvantages of the collaboration can be workloads are not equal, unclear of the purpose of assignment, poor communication, different backgrounds, the understanding of information given. Workloads are always set so that each team member has the same amount of work to do, but there are times were team members do not carry his or her own load.
When this happens the rest of the team members have to pick up the slack of that team member. This makes it harder for the rest of the team to finish the project on time and can cause animosity. Some team members just ride along and do not give 100% and give little to no contribution. In the article hosted by HubPages the author states that “collaboration can lead to inequitable workload therefore take the evaluation process seriously, evaluate your own as well as each group member’s efforts, and of course define your own task” (2011).
Make sure you do your part and understand what is required. See how hard your team members are working and try to match them and not think you are better. If any team member is not clear of the end goal, and says nothing, this can cause problems like delays. Some people when working in a team are too afraid to admit that they are not sure what the purpose of the assignment is. If a team member is not sure of what is expected and says nothing that person needs to realize that it puts a strain on the rest of the members. Getting rid of shyness is an important step.
Team members have different backgrounds. Some backgrounds can make it difficult to understand where everyone in the group is coming from. Here we can learn from each other on how different learning styles are great. You can get a team member who is not willing to change and says his or her way is the best way. When this occurs it will become difficult to continue unless there is a discussion. We need to see that just because we learned different it does not mean that the other team members way are wrong. When a team is assigned a project they are given all they need to proceed.
Some members may not fully understand the materials and resources given to them. When a team member does not understand the information, he or she may not do their part to the best of his or her abilities possibly causing the team member to turn in assignments that either are completely off topic or are not adequate enough to finish the project. Understanding of the information is very important in order for the team to continue and pursue the end goal. The team members should easily be able to take their task in hand and not depend on others.
Here, a team member can depend on one or more people to help him or her finish. Teams should make sure that at the beginning each member understands the assignment, what his or her part is and what is needed to complete the project. Communication is the highest important factor in any team work. Without communication there will be no way that any team can finish what they started; there will be confusion. Communication should be established right from the start. The team needs to agree on a form of communication; using e-mail, IM, phone or any way members can talk to each other.
Another disadvantage of collaboration of team work is that there is a chance that the group will have a decrease in creativity. Erin Schreiner wrote in an article that “Federal Aviation Administration reports that this type of work can also be creativity stifling and lead to the development of a “Group Think” tendency” (2010). A group member will hesitate to suggest ideas and will agree with what the majority of team members say. This may cause good ideas not to be used or said. It does not mean that the team project is not great, but it could have set a different tone.
Many disadvantages of collaboration exist in the workplace. The few that are important include; unequal workloads, being unclear of the purpose of assignment, poor communication, different backgrounds, and the understanding of information given. If everyone follows a few simple rules and pays attention to each other in the group, the possibilities for issues to arise are decrease. Some disadvantages cannot be avoided, like different backgrounds. Just because there are disadvantages does not mean that we should not collaborate in the workplace, at school, or anywhere else.
The Web offers a variety of collaboration choices for workgroups looking to implement a more advanced technology tool to enhance their collaboration capabilities at no cost or for little cost. These applications and tools allow someone who may not be an IT manager or even someone from an IT department the capability of setting up a collaboration solution with minimal effort. Some of these options include: Google applications and tools, Zoho Notebook, Zoho Projects, Blue Tie’s suite of tools, Basecamp, or if you do not want to store your documents on a third party’s server you can use Wikis.
Low costs, easy to use and easy to set up are good reasons to implement some type of collaboration tool, but just implementing the tools does not guarantee they will be used to their full intent. Wikis are server-based applications that enable workgroup members to create and edit content by using their web browser. The main characteristics of wikis are collaborative participation, co-construction of knowledge, and fluid content; changing based on the contributions shared by each user (Yuan, Crowley, Asunka, Chae, & Natriello, 2010).
The presumed effectiveness of having a Wiki will not resolve all the demands for collaboration in a workgroup. The workgroup needs to establish a set of guidelines to be used by all as well as a resolve from each individual to use only the agreed upon tools or applications for his or her collaboration activities. A possible breakdown in the use of any collaboration suite is the introduction of another collaboration tool used in parallel. For instance, one team member cannot revert back to using email to share a new thought or to share a new document.
Group members, who work in proximity of each other, should not discuss project topics face-to-face, thus creating a knowledge gap in the collaboration suite that cannot be observed by other group members in other locations. Creating a list of goals and guidelines will directly affect the successfulness of the Wiki (or another collaboration suite). Guidelines should include creating a common space for group members to post comments, feedback, document submissions and to store the group’s goals and guidelines for future members.
Educating each of the group members on how to best utilize the collaboration suite will increase the use of the application. Group members will not fully utilize the tools available to them if they are not aware of their options or if they do not fully understand how they function. In a case study on the use of a Wiki in a higher education research unit, the perceived benefits and effectiveness in incorporating a Wiki for collaboration within a workgroup was easily recognized by group members. However, when the time came to incorporate tools within the Wiki, they were not fully utilized (Yuan, Crowley, Asunka, Chae, & Natriello, 2010).
Assumed reasons for group members not fully using the Wiki were the group spent the majority of their working hours in proximity and other collaborative technologies were equally available and used. The effectiveness of the Wiki in this case study could have been increased with a predefined set of goals and guidelines. Other key aspects in effective collaboration are the establishment of authority and means to manage conflicts that may arise. Asserting authority in appropriately creates a better collaborator.
By participating in discussions, individuals will assert some type of authority while agreeing or disagreeing and while creating guidelines for the paper at large. Generally, group members will not support individuals who express an overly assertive or overly passive tone to their arguments. Individuals on each side of the spectrum are seen as not having enough concern for the project or they appear to be controlling the outcome of the project (Fredrick, 2008). For groups created by individuals of equal status in their work environment there are not clearly defined authority hierarchies to follow.
Given this type of equal status involvement there are two models for authority negotiation that can be applied. First, transfer-of-knowledge sequences, in which individuals will assume authority hierarchies similar to their work environment. Second, collaborative sequences, in which individuals use circular talk to reach conclusions (Fredrick, 2008). Using a transfer-of-knowledge sequence an individual who has a greater amount of knowledge in one area will educate the other members while assuming an instructor or manager role.
Authority during this sequence is not maintained throughout the whole of the project but rather passed on from one individual to another as his or her knowledge base dictates. For example, one individual may start out the project by showing the other members how to effectively use a Wiki; another may demonstrate usage of SharePoint. Collaborative sequences are when individuals share knowledge without any individual assuming a leadership role. Topics discussed in this sequence can span multiple topics and responses my overlap each other.
An example of collaborative sequences would be our weekly discussion questions. A question is raised and each person will answer the question from his or her point of view, which generates more conversation from other group members. Information is shared and gathered without any individual trying to settle or resolve the topic at hand. A consensus will ultimately be reached without declaring one right or wrong. In the event that a conflict arises, step need to be in place to resolve the difference to allow the conversation to proceed.
One way to resolve a conflict is to have a quick five to 10-minute chat session to discuss the opposing views. This process will help reduce any anxiety that one or more individuals may have toward another. The most important aspects for each side of the argument will be presented in this short period without the contention lingering. At this time a more productive negotiation can take place to decide the direction the group will take. This process can also help toward the end of the project when it is time to review one another work.
A little chat session before reviewing will get group members in a communicating frame of mind, which will lead to more feedback and discussion. Technology is playing a greater role in collaboration. Corporations are going regionally and globally in today’s market. The day when business people traveled to multiple locations to collect and share knowledge is going away; time, cost, and safety are major factors contributing to these changes. Librarians would not be the first profession one would think of to evaluate the effectiveness of technology in collaboration efforts, but in hindsight they are a perfect example.
Librarians are typically working by themselves or with a limited staff; their job locations are dispersed across campuses, cities, states, and countries. The work conducted by librarians is similar across the board. Their physical separation between other locations can give them a sense of isolation from the rest of their peers. In a survey among librarians, they expressed their main method of communication were email, phone, and in-person. These finding also revealed a correlation between communication and the feeling of isolation among remove branch librarians.
In addition, the branch librarians felt as if they lacked the means to participate in impromptu brainstorming and access to a wider variety of resource outside of their library (Bottorff, Glaser, Todd, & Alderman, 2008). Perhaps the leading factor hindering the librarians surveyed from participating in any collaboration efforts are the lack of time available because of other duties. This comes from the perception that collaboration needs to take place in person as opposed to doing it remotely. Wikis and other technical collaboration tools are available to they were not listed as a primary means to communicate.
Management needs to develop a more defined set of guidelines to be used for these tools to provide involvement across campuses. When larger libraries function independently it creates a greater communication gap and a greater sense of isolation between the more remote locations. Technological tools are not the sole answer but combined with direction and support from upper management, these tools can bridge the communication gaps and develop a more cohesive group no matter the geographical locations. References Schreiner, E. 2010). The Disadvantages of Teamwork in the Workplace. eHow. Retrieved from http://www. ehow. com/list_7446792_disadvantages-teamwork-workplace. html#ixzz1PUiYquzj HubPages. (2011). The Advantage and Disadvantage of Collaboration in the Workplace. Retrieved from http://hubpages. com/hub/Collaborationatwork Bottorff, T. , Glaser, R. , Todd, A. , & Alderman, B. (2008). Branching Out: Communication and Collaboration Among Librarians at Multi-Campus Institutions. Journal of Library Administration, 48(3/4), 329-363.
Cross, R. , Ehrlich, K. , Dawson, R. , & Helferich, J. (2008). Managing Collaboration: IMPROVING TEAM EFFECTIVENESS THROUGH A NETWORK PERSPECTIVE. California Management Review, 50(4), 74-98. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Fredrick, T. A. (2008, Dec). Facilitating Better Teamwork: Analyzing The Challenges and Strategies of Classroom-Based Collaboration. Business Communication Quarterly, 71(4), 439-455. Lee, Q. (2001). Teams in workplace can provide the edge between also-ran, champs . Retrieved from