Effective teamwork is crucial for achieving organisational goals and fostering a positive work environment. While individual self-reliance is often seen as a valuable trait, excessive self-reliance within a team can have adverse effects on overall productivity and team spirit.
What is excessive self-reliance?
When individuals at the workplace tend to depend heavily on their own capabilities and resources, disregarding collaboration and avoiding seeking support from others, it is called excessive self-reliance.
It is characterised by a reluctance to ask for help, limited delegation of tasks, minimal collaboration, disregard for available support systems, and a hesitance to acknowledge limitations. While individual self-reliance can have its merits, beyond a certain limit, it can create barriers to effective teamwork and hinder the sharing of expertise and resources. It may lead to overwhelming workloads, underutilization of team members’ skills, missed opportunities for innovation, and hindered personal growth.
Why is it harmful?
Talking about the negative impact of excessive self-reliance, Ravi Mishra, SVP-HR, advanced materials business, Aditya Birla Group, says, “When one person takes on all the work, other team members are deprived of the opportunity to showcase their potential and contribute to the project. When one person dominates the workload, other team members may feel undervalued and demotivated.”
He warns that relying heavily on a single individual can result in an imbalanced distribution of skills and expertise. “Each team member brings unique talents and perspectives to the table, and by not leveraging this diversity, the team misses out on the benefits of collective intelligence and innovative problem-solving,” points out Mishra.
“When one person takes on all the work, other team members are deprived of the opportunity to showcase their potential and contribute to the project. When one person dominates the workload, other team members may feel undervalued and demotivated.”
Ravi Mishra, SVP-HR, advanced materials business, Aditya Birla Group
Striking a balance between self-reliance, recognising the value of collaboration, and utilising available resources is crucial for fostering a productive and supportive work environment. Excessive self-reliance can have detrimental effects on team collaboration, workload distribution, skill utilisation, accountability, and team spirit.
Prasanth Gulur Bhyranna, group CHRO, First Steps Babywear, feels that in today’s work environment, teamwork and collaboration are highly valued.
“By relying solely on oneself, one may miss out on opportunities to learn from and contribute to the team. It’s essential to involve the team in assignments and projects to foster growth and excellence. Otherwise, they may seek out more stimulating opportunities elsewhere, leading to attrition within the organisation,” cautions Bhyranna.
When team members are overly independent and hesitant to seek help or support, collaboration suffers. The lack of diverse perspectives and shared knowledge limits the team’s ability to find innovative solutions and make informed decisions.
Moreover, no individual possesses all the skills and expertise required for every aspect of a project. Depending solely on individual self-reliance results in knowledge gaps and limitations within the team, hindering opportunities for growth and producing suboptimal outcomes. Furthermore, when each person becomes solely responsible for their tasks, shared responsibility and accountability diminish, leading to decreased motivation, reduced commitment, and lower team productivity.
Along with all this excessive self-reliance, it can also lead to a knowledge gap within the organisation. If one person holds all the knowledge and clarity of the production process, there is a risk that valuable information and expertise will be lost when that individual leaves the team or organisation.
Lastly, excessive self-reliance undermines team spirit, eroding trust and camaraderie. Cooperation and mutual support decline, resulting in fragmented team dynamics, reduced morale, and decreased overall engagement and satisfaction among team members.
“By relying solely on oneself, one may miss out on opportunities to learn from and contribute to the team. It’s essential to involve the team in assignments and projects to foster growth and excellence.”
Prasanth Gulur Bhyranna, group CHRO, First Steps Babywear
How to avoid excessive self-reliance
Sujiv Nair, global CHRO, Re Sustainability, shares that effective communication plays a crucial role in overcoming the tendency to be excessively self-reliant.
“Managers often fail to understand the context of their team members and neglect to clearly communicate their own expectations. To overcome this challenge, managers should approach issues or goals from a team perspective rather than focusing solely on their own interests. Effective communication and monitoring are crucial in this regard,” says Nair.
He also adds that monitoring and communication are key to maintaining healthy team dynamics. “Scheduling regular discussions and dedicating specific time to address issues and concerns can help keep everyone aligned and engaged. By creating an open and transparent environment, managers can provide guidance and direction while empowering their team members to take ownership of their tasks,” suggests Nair.
According to Nair, understanding delegation is also crucial for effective teamwork. Managers should be aware of the different levels of delegation, ranging from making decisions for others to seeking input and consensus. By involving team members in the decision-making process, managers can foster a sense of ownership and empower their team to contribute effectively.
“Scheduling regular discussions and dedicating specific time to address issues and concerns can help keep everyone aligned and engaged”
Sujiv Nair, global CHRO, Re Sustainability
To foster a productive and harmonious team environment, it is essential to promote shared responsibility, collaboration, and recognition of each team member’s contributions. Encouraging a culture of inclusivity, where everyone has the opportunity to participate and showcase their skills, leads to increased engagement, enhanced productivity, and the development of strong team spirit.
Bhyranna also agrees that team leaders and managers must ensure that team members are presented with challenging and engaging work. This is essential for productivity and successful team dynamics.
While individual self-reliance is a valuable trait, it is important to strike a balance within a team setting. Excessive self-reliance can negatively impact productivity and team spirit by hampering collaboration, overburdening individuals, limiting skills and expertise, reducing accountability, and hindering team cohesion.