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Friday, August 28, 2009

individual vs. team


Individual performance and team spirit are two disparate ways through which tasks may be accomplished. At one end, the enhanced quality of a person’s life depends on his optimized freedom and opportunity for self-development. On the far end, this improved quality depends not necessarily on individual liberty and improvement but on one’s team spirit. As may be gleaned from above, a person’s wants and needs clash against a group’s interests. Hence, a contradiction exists between the value of strong believing persons and that of compromising ones for the team’s greater good. Whereas a person opts for passion, commitment and individualism, this single human being may also choose teamwork, compromise and collaboration if he associates with a social group or institution. In the Modernist era, socialism and collectivism render people to be formed toward a common goal and to be responsible for each other. The individual members of a group are committed to jointly reaching the ultimate product, and share and account for a mutual purpose, performance objective and working style. As opposed to Post-Modernist’s individualism, collectivism has one’s identity essentially comprised of and indicated by his interaction and relationship with others. Thus, the collective sake is put to prime when a person’s needs and goals get subordinated to and sacrificed in favor of those of the bigger group. Universities, organizations and nations prove that people are integral to something larger than their individual selves.
Doing tasks on one’s own has advantages in that working individually makes one accountable for his own actions. Also, it permits one to express himself freely and to innovate. It likewise commits one to pursue personal growth and accomplishment. Regarding decision-making, individuals decide faster and more efficiently.
Meanwhile, individuals will operate based on their organization’s reward-punishment mode despite managers’ pitch for the value of teamwork—something prejudiced towards individualistic competition. A perfect example of this is one’s cooperation or achievement of a task to get the motivational promotion or higher pay for himself alone. The aforementioned disadvantage makes people seem selfish since each person is an end in himself and he should not be jeopardized for another’s sake. It is worth asserting that the individual, not the group, is the elementary constituent of the society. Individualism is not necessarily being uncooperative, heedless, separatist or closed-minded, but seeking out the best (even the worst) in oneself.
Like individual performance, teamwork has advantages too. Whereas variety in personality, age, gender and experience generates problems, it somehow promotes creativity and ingenuity, leading to enhanced decision-making and performance. Diverse perspectives mean greater openness to innovation, various interpretations, heightened creativity, greater flexibility, and additional problem-solving skills. Groups are more favorable than one in terms of decision-making in terms of generating more comprehensive information and knowledge, of bringing up variety of views, of creating higher-quality decisions, and of supporting more acceptable decisions.
However, teamwork is disadvantageous in that it spends more time and resources than individual work. For starters, teams heighten communication demands, conflicts to address, and meetings to do. Hence, the benefits of teamwork exceed the maintenance cost. Notwithstanding, managers still use team where work is better done by just one. In addition, teams can effect in more social loafing or individuals exerting less effort when working as a group. While sometimes enormously beneficial, living in society and cooperating with others are at times baneful, as in the case of American slaves arrangement.
As a case study, team effort in swimming is not readily seen since the race is relegated only as a sport. Besides, the very race generates individual effort at large yet its success depends on the quality of team atmosphere structured on the support the swimmers give and receive mutually.
The Soviet socialist system crashed because it did not recognize individualism, or individual as a person. Collectivism is resistible for it jeopardizes individuality. However, these uncompromising positions give an ultimate self-destruction. Reality check: when the tide rises, all the boats get lifted.
Group papers are a different banana altogether in that by personal experience, papers should be done individually if only for being completely accountable for everything—mistakes, high grades and all. Individual papers can be started the earliest and most convenient time possible, need not ask for anyone’s suggestions and time for rewriting or for unnecessary conflict, uncooperativeness and hard-to-set organization meeting. This is not to overlook the team contribution of fewer burdens for exerting effort, and of more insights and innovation.
In whatever way a task may be accomplished, the preference for individual performance or group work should be gauged on the nature of the task. Simple tasks that need not require comprehensive input should perhaps be delegated to a single person. To cite an example, several new car-dealer service departments have created teams which connect customer service personnel, mechanics, parts specialists and sales consultants. These teams can better render mutual responsibility for ascertaining that the customers’ needs are surely met. Teamwork means something where there exists interdependence among tasks—where the success of the whole is reflected by individual success, and one’s success depends on the others’. Soccer, to illustrate, is obviously a team sport because of players’ interdependence. By contrast, team swimming is merely a group of individuals whose sum of performance gets totaled as a group performance. Individual work kills any chance of escalated disagreements if teamwork is not necessary. In forming teams, managers should collect similar-minded people or persons whose strong beliefs are likely common, and from among people who have mutual trust and liking in order to minimize friction within the group.

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