Lone wolf or team worker - which is best?

One of the most popular clichés I see on CVs is the legend: “I work well both in a team and on my own.” 

Tip: if you see this tired sentence anywhere on your CV, delete it immediately!  Everybody puts that, and it’s probably not true anyway.  Going by my long years of corporate experience, most of us work well either in a team or on their own.

I’m definitely the latter.  I was a loner at school, and later on I would seek out any opportunity I could to work by myself.  My roles in HR were mostly standalone, meaning I had my own office, and now I work from home as a writer.

It can be hard to admit that you prefer solitude, when the world is geared towards fun, charming and extroverted people!  But these days I’m happy to admit that open-plan offices and communal workspaces, with all their rules and petty notices, not to mention the constant need to be blandly nice and get on with everybody, are my personal idea of hell.

If all that sounds a bit curmudgeonly and sharp, you probably prefer team work.  If you do, I sort-of envy you.  We’ve all got limited skillsets (even me), which means collaboration can work absolute wonders when it comes to problem solving, or coming up with creative ideas.

It can be easy to feel that you’re limited when it comes to your preferred way of working (which is why people try to cover all the bases when they write CVs!)  I think the key is in understanding the way you work best, along with all its pros and cons – so you can correct any pitfalls that go along with it. 

For example, I’m lucky enough to be able to motivate myself to work, and I find it easy to concentrate, which means I can get a lot done in a short time.  But freelancing is hard, so I do need support from others every now and again. 

When I need that support, I ask for it.  I also make sure I receive regular feedback on the work I produce, so I can keep learning – rather than convincing myself that a piece of writing is good just because I like it!

By contrast, if you enjoy working in a team it can be harder to reach decisions and to avoid occasional conflict, meaning taking some time out on your own to understand what you really think can be very helpful.

However you like to work, it’s important for your sense of wellbeing that you find a workplace or a role that supports it, even if you have to carve it out for yourself.  If nothing else then please – no more bland CV statements!

How do you prefer to work – and do you have any tips or strategies for lone or teamworking success?

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