Tell the Truth: There Is No 'I' in Team

Man, if we had a nickel for every time we said: "There is no 'i' in team." We'd be rich!

Well, we may not be rich, but turns out — we're right!

A whopping 95 percent of people who have worked on a team say teams play an important role at work, according to recent survey by the University of Phoenix.

Colorblind Images | Iconica | Getty Images

But, when pressed, just 24 percent said they would like to be part of a team.

Well, hey, that's just us cranky old people who still imagine ourselves as superheroes who work alone, right? There's hope for the next generation … um, right?

Not so much: Thirty-six percent of young people (ages 18 to 24) said they, too, recognize the importance of teamwork but would prefer to work alone ALL THE TIME.

OMG. ROTFC. (Rolling on the floor crying.)

The biggest problem, it turns out, is — everyone act surprised – dysfunction.

Nearly seven in 10 people (68 percent) surveyed said they had been part of a dysfunctional unit.

Well yay for those three out of 10. Maybe you guys should form a team!

So how dysfunctional does dysfunctional get to make us hate teamwork — fisticuffs?

In some cases, yes.

Forty percent said they had witnessed a verbal confrontation and 15 percent said they had seen a confrontation turn physical.

For those keeping score at home, that's more than 1 in 10 who have seen a brawl … In. The. Office.

Of course, some of us have the decency to just blame someone else or gossip instead of getting physical: Forty percent said they'd seen a team member blame another team member, and 32 percent said they'd seen a team member start a rumor about another rumor.

Hey, did you hear the one about those three in 10 who've never been part of a dysfunctional team? Yeah, I heard they've been known to fib from time to time. Pfffff.

It's fun to poke fun at our dysfunction, and frankly, we could do it ALL DAY. But here are some concrete tips for avoiding team dysfunction from Susan Heathfield, a member of the Society for Human Resources Management who writes about workplace issues for

  • Make sure the team understands the goals.
  • Keep the communications line open and respectful.
  • Value creativity, innovation and different viewpoints.
  • Have procedures for diagnosing, analyzing and resolving problems on the team.
  • Give team members a chance to lead on different projects. also suggests asking questions on teamwork when interviewing job applicants – to try to make sure you get one of those 3, not the 10!

Among the questions:

  • Give an example of a successful project you've worked on.
  • What was your role?
  • Have you ever been on a project that failed? What did you learn? What would you have done differently?

And remember, the answer shouldn't be – I should've worked alone!

Are you a team player or fancy yourself a bit of a superhero? Drop your comment in the box below or email

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