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Working Autonomously and as Part of a Team

By Daniel Schmitt

People will find many pros and cons when it comes to working autonomously or when working with a team.   It is possible for a group of team members with a common goal in mind to accomplish the same as an individual working towards the same goal.  Working as a team involves effective utilization of everyone’s strengths while keeping open communications to minimize and keep drawbacks to a minimum.  Although working autonomously eliminates differences and what some may think to be drawbacks, it can be limiting in opinion and one sided.

Oftentimes teams are created because a specific goal cannot be achieved by an individual – by creating a team, what may be a weakness for one, may be a strength for another; therefore, creating a balance of available resources.  Sometimes working independently results in failure for the individual because he or she lacks the necessary competence or experience that could be gained by working with a team, causing it to potentially take longer to complete a project or a task.  When working as part of a team, each member of the team must develop a level of trust in those on their team to feel comfortable that everyone will participate and complete tasks as expected.  In contrast, working individually this challenge does not exist, however all responsibility is on the individual either creating stress and pressure, or empowerment and control.

Two important factors to consider with team work are conflict and what some may label as “passing the buck”.   In any group situation, work or not, there is bound to be some type of conflict amongst people, it’s natural.  As a result of conflict, a person may prefer autonomy to refrain from having to adjust to the responsibilities in working by other’s rules and conforming to the interests and ideas of others.  In speaking of drawbacks, “passing the buck” can oftentimes be a rising challenge when working in a group that an individual would not face.  Without the ability to collaborate and share responsibility effectively, this challenge can demoralize a team member and cause them to withdraw diminishing the overall capabilities of the team.

As this article highlighted for you, working as part of a team or autonomously each have their pros and cons.  All of us work both autonomously and in a team at different points in our career, on different projects, and on different tasks.  You may not have a preference, however the key is making sure you recognize, understand, and apply the concepts expressed here to achieve your greatest success!