Today’s post is for everyone who works as a member of Free Agent Nation (me included). Maybe it’s time for us to reconsider how we work.
My professional focus is to help others work together.
I do this work alone.
Anyone see that as odd? While I’ve made jokes about it for the past 18 years, I can’t say I’ve seen a problem. And yet I’ve begun to think about missed opportunities.
In seminars, I sell the wonders of teamwork. You know the list. When working together, the following improves or increases:
Interestingly, I’m always talking to people who are already part of a team. The list is meant to help them gain the advantages that teamwork offers and maybe help them feel better about the situation.
But what would happen if they had a choice between working together or working alone? What would they choose? What would you choose? The choice depends on what you put on the other side of the scale.
After providing the benefits of teamwork, I typically ask groups to develop a case against it. That list isn’t hard to make:
- It slows things down.
- Have to work with people I don’t like.
- Lose control of the situation.
- Have to share credit and blame, often when it’s not justified.
- Held back by a weak link.
- Stuck doing more than my fair share.
- Disagreements are uncomfortable.
- It’s just plain hard.
Pros and cons of going solo
I can as easily argue for teamwork as I can against it. I believe all the items on both lists to be true. That doesn’t mean they are.
Notice the case has been framed as “The pros and cons of teamwork.” Lately, I’ve been thinking about changing the frame to “The pros and cons of working by myself.”
How would the lists change? Many items would simply be flipped upside down. I think some new ideas might also be added.
For example, if teamwork means that I “have to work with people I don’t like,” does working on my own mean that I don’t? Probably not. While I may not have collaborators, I still have clients, participants, and vendors. And it’s possible some of them may not be my favorites either.
Working on my own might mean that I don’t learn to work with people who do things differently than I do. It could also mean the differences might represent important complementary skills that I’m missing out on.
Ready to change things up
If you are currently a member of a team, you need to decide whether to engage or not.
For the soloists out there, you need to decide if you want to continue working alone. I’m not suggesting formal partnerships, but rather simple collaborations.
I’m not sure if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, but I think it’s time to explore a bit.
Anyone up for exploring together? I have a lot to share:
- Business practices
- Client needs
What are you willing to share?
If you want to take an easy step, send me a connect request on LinkedIn. We can begin a conversation. From there, maybe we will both be pleasantly surprised about what results.
Image credit: The Natural Step Canada via Flickr (cc)