Why is it so hard to work as a Team?

Over the past 15 year I have had the opportunity to lead a lot of different groups through teambuilding activities to help them come together as one.  This question that I ask is not meant to be some sort of deep physiological questions, but just my personal observations over time.  My question is; why is it so hard for use humans to work together on a team?  After much thought, I think the answer is very simple; we as humans find it difficult to put the groups needs (goals) above our own needs (goals).  In short, even on a team we still compete with each other rather as a whole.

You see, from my observation, we are selfish by nature and not team players.  All too often team members are competing against each other and not as a team with a focus.  When we are in completion like this, someone has to win and someone has to lose.   When this happens internally on any team, everyone loses when because the team can’t compete or function as it should.

Please don’t think that I believe that competition is a bad thing; I don’t.  However, in the wrong context, competition is bad.  Consider marriage as an example.  If a couple is continually competing with each other (one trying to make sure their needs are meet before the others), the marriage will not last.  All too often couples fail to think about what is best for the marriage, but only what is only best for the individual.  What is best for the marriage may not be the best for the person doing the pushing.  When you get two or more persons do this, things can spiral out of control quickly.

Pure competition means “I” win and someone looses.  We learn this lesson from an early age in life.  Where do we learn this lesson?  From the sports and other competitive activities our parent’s sign us up for as kids.  There we listen to our parents complain to the coach that their son or daughter is better than the player playing that key position, therefore their son or daughter should be playing that spot.

This is not how a team should work.  As a team member; the individual has to be willing to set their selfish, self-centered goals aside for the best of the group.  What happens all too often with groups we are lead through teambuilding activities, is that individuals sabotaged the efforts or disengaging with the team.  The reason I believe is that they feel their role is not important to the group.  Maybe the individuals did not fully understand what the others on the team needed or maybe they were rushed to do their job and provided something substandard.  The reasons can be many, but it boils down in most cases is the mentality of “Look out for number 1; me.”

Each of us want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, but we hesitate to truly engage in something bigger.  Why is that, because we are so used to putting our needs first!

Mahanaim Adventures provide excellent Project COPE (team building adventure) and other outdoor adventures to scouting groups, sports teams, church groups and corporate groups.  If you are having issues with your team or just want to take your team to the next level, contact us and we can help lead your team to that next level of working as a team

Don and Diane Harty are the owners of Mahanaim Adventures, the Cape Fear and Wilmington, NC areas premier outdoor adventure guide and kayaking business. Don and Joseph, son of Don and Diane, strive for each person on our adventures to have a “Positive & Memorable” experience. We offer quality half-day, full-day and overnight kayaking adventures. We also provide team building adventures and courses, as well as wilderness first aid classes to Boy Scouts and other groups.