Teamwork: Expectations Vs Reality

A person’s perception of their working situation can point to various things. The quality of one’s work can be greatly affected due to the difference between that perception and the reality of their working environment. This perception can be formed through many factors, such as what a specific project promised the employees, for example, either incentives or a raise (or even both), a friendly and inclusive environment, accrediting the employees, etc. But oftentimes, what is promised at the beginning of the project is usually not what is offered once the project starts, which can greatly affect one’s quality of work adversely.

Another issue with teamwork is feeling like your coworkers in the team are incompetent for the job, and then ending up doing all the work yourself because you do not trust your teammates, even if it might be for the simplest tasks. This could also be due to multiple reasons. Some employees only participate in new projects in order to add them to their CV, even if they did not fulfill their responsibilities. They are only part of the project for the incentives and have no interest in actually participating in the teamwork. Either that or the reason is as previously mentioned, that what was promised to the employees by the project manager is not what’s being offered, and thus they do not see any significance in the need to perform well in the team.

Here are some other examples of how expectations and reality in teamwork can differ greatly, for both the team lead and the employees working in the team, and how such discrepancies could be tackled:


Expectation: The tasks are easily communicated and completed as the team works like a well-oiled machine.

Reality: Confused employees, clueless team lead, all because the communication was unclear, leading to further frustration.

Solution: It is necessary for team leads to verify that their team members are receiving accurate data and intended emails at the right time. The sender, either the head of the team or any other teammate, must follow up with the recipient in order to make sure that the understanding of the task at hand or the recipient must verify it themselves, or ask the right questions in order to properly communicate their concerns.


Expectation: There are little to no time lags as all the members of the team share the workload.

Reality: One person might feel as though they have more work than they can possibly complete on time, and the lead might feel as though their workers are slacking off and not performing well or not giving them the quality that is required.

Solution: Employees’ expectations of their workloads and the time they have to complete their job responsibilities can vary dramatically from those of their bosses or colleagues. Although realities should lie somewhere in the middle, managers and supervisors should take the time to survey workers in a non-forceful manner and make them feel appreciated for their inputs. Many workers feel rushed or stressed at work, but with a little coordination, reorganization, and delegation, this perception can be improved.

Job Satisfaction

Expectation: Employees have certain expectations before joining a new project, such as getting a raise, getting a promotion, or gaining experience and exposure.

Reality: Employees barely get anything out of the project, therefore adversely affecting their job satisfaction.

Solution: Employers should consider including benefits for workers who work less favorable shifts or holding raise assessments every six to nine months rather than once a year to ensure that employees’ expectations are still in line with reality.

Expecting a team to be high-performing is unrealistic if the employees do not feel comfortable sharing their concerns, feedback, creative ideas, and perspectives, even if the work is incentivized. Thus, the team feels undervalued, disconnected, unmotivated, and excluded.

In order to overcome obstacles and attain excellence, individuals need to feel supported, acknowledged, and appreciated. Nonverbal communication is just, or even more important than verbal, and so in order to connect with your team, you must also focus on your thoughts, feelings, and actions to facilitate a trusting and supportive team.

So, build trust and integrity in the workplace by establishing and assuring a safe connection amongst your team!

Zahra Rehman

Social science undergrad and amateur artist who has a soft spot for cats, dogs and philosophy.

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