The risks of teamwork



Teamwork can be a highly agreeable experience producing extremely positive results. However, counterproductive behaviours within the team can cause serious problems, affecting the effectiveness of the team and the psychological health of its members. Following a study of 500 workers, Caroline Aubé, research professor at HEC Montréal, identified four of these behaviours.

Teamwork is generally assessed in terms of desirable behaviours, but that it is also necessary to estimate the impact of counterproductive behaviours.

The most documented is interpersonal aggression, which can take the form of insults or threats undermining the dignity and integrity of others. Interpersonal aggression has negative consequences on the psychological health of individuals and the performance of the team. Another problem: parasitism, characterized by a tendency to be late to meetings or always claim to be too busy to take on new responsibilities. A third problem: some team members tend to overrate their contribution to the group. They brag about the work they accomplished or take more than their share of the credit, often in front of their superiors. Finally, the last negative behaviour concerns the misuse of the team's material or human resources, be it the budget or the respective skills of its members.

Caroline Aubé notes that teamwork is generally assessed in terms of desirable behaviours, but that it is also necessary to estimate the impact of counterproductive behaviours, which are not only the opposite of desirable behaviours. This research has practical applications: the questionnaire used in the study could be used by organizations to assess their work teams, while the typology of counterproductive behaviours could be a tool for familiarizing workers with the challenges of teamwork.