Working in a team requires of a person to have a specific mindset and cultural values compatible with teamwork. These include collectivism and aptitude for group decision making that is present in many cultures. Unfortunately, there are quite a few individuals finding working in teams a challenge to their mental and interpersonal abilities that they are unwilling to face. The reasons may have to do with culture and/or personal characteristics.
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Thus, some cultures promote an individualist stance and place emphasis on individual achievement. Individuals coming from these backgrounds will surely find extensive teamwork and distribution of rewards based on group performance trying and not stimulating. A person whose cultures scores high on Individualism based on Geert Hofstede’s Individualism vs. Collectivism cultural dimension may find that individual work is preferable to team work (Hofstede, 1994, pp. 5-6). Another possibility is that a person lacks interpersonal skills and is unable to build relationships with fellow team members. This problem can be caused by general lapses in communication skills or by
lapses that relate predominantly to this particular group. Thus, a person may find communication with a particular set of people difficult, but not another.
In the latter case, a person could be shifted to a different department or group if there is suspicion that individual incompatibility is the difference. If a person suffers from a general problem in communication, the manager can deal with the issue by talking to the individual in person, suggesting ways to improve the situation or offering even psychologist’s counselling. In case of cultural differences, barriers may be more difficult to overcome, but managers can also correct the situation by offering a system for rewarding individual achievement within groups, for instance, offering group members the right to award bonuses or prizes to the most efficient group members.
Speaking of a mixed-gender versus all-female group, there is hardly an exact answer to the question which is a more challenging environment. Obviously, much depends on the personalities of group members and the individual in question and, for that matter, the gender of the new entrant. A man will typically find an environment composed only of women a greater challenge, but there is no doubt that the chance to perform the typical male role of domineering and shouldering more responsibility can assist a man in promotion and personal development in such an environment.
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