Working Alone Inhibits Learning


Working alone can be very stressful which is why Doers need support while they are acquiring new skills or taking in new information. A number of things can go wrong if those undergoing training fail to support each other through the process of learning—here are just a few samples of what can happen.

  • Followers will not receive the encouragement they need if they experiment with new things without support. They will try to initiate changes and be demoralized because no one will follow up with them. These individuals will wonder why they bothered to learn something new if no one else seems to care.
  • Frustration levels will grow when people work independently on different tasks that should be coordinated. The collective agenda should provide clear direction. If the individuals do not work on it together, the result will be chaotic and confusing.
  • Some ambitious people will take advantage of the chaos to promote their own agendas. They may use the distraction to score points with the boss in an attempt to gain an advantage over a coworker who is competing for advancement. They often circumvent the normal chain of command by arranging private meetings with key decision-makers to seek approval for their ideas.
  • When people duplicate tasks and projects, energy is wasted. Followers may be working independently on the same thing but unaware of the duplication because they are not discussing it.
  • Fights, arguments and disagreements occur regularly because of the lack of communication. Followers are quick to accuse others when things go wrong, because somebody (else) must be to blame.
  • Unexpected and unnecessary problems arise simply because there is chaos instead of order. Followers cannot recall who agreed to do what. Problems thought to have been resolved resurface. Quick fixes replace carefully thought-out solutions and past mistakes are repeated.
  • Careers are unnecessarily sidetracked because independent followers do not function as well when pressured to try new things on their own. Working in a team, poor performers can be coached to shore up weaknesses.

Because Doers are not working together and sharing what they know, it sometimes is unclear what should be happening and what needs to be done by whom and by when. Without team-based learning objectives, individuals, who conceived projects on their own, risk wasting both time and energy. The results may make people feel good because they have accomplished something, but it does not help the team achieve its purpose.


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