Why Working With Buddies Can Improve Performance

Why Working With Buddies Can Improve Performance

We routinely work together with other people. Often, we try to achieve shared goals in groups, whether as a team of firefighters or in a scientific collaboration. When working together, many people – naturally – would prefer doing so with others who are their friends. But, as much as we like spending time with our friends, is working with them in a group really good for our performance?

People have different personal opinions about this question. Some think working in a group of friends makes you more productive, because knowing and liking each other makes you more efficient. Others think it makes you less productive, because you spend too much time recapping your adventures from last weekend rather than focusing on work. So who is right?

Over the last 35 years, several studies have investigated the performance of groups consisting of friends. The performance of these groups was directly compared to those consisting of acquaintances, that is people who – in contrast to friends – have no meaningful joint past, no intimate knowledge about each other, and are rather neutral in their feelings towards each other.

A recent meta-analyis, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, combines the results of these studies. Although the number of integrated studies is comparatively low (26), and the effects found are mostly small in size, the overall message is clear.

Good news for those who like working with friends

The meta-analysis shows that groups of friends perform better than groups of acquaintances. They achieve more when they do physical work like moving heavy objects, but also when doing cognitive work like making joint decisions. This competitive advantage holds in situations where friends depend on each other to achieve high performance, like when sharing their knowledge is required.

Perhaps surprisingly, the positive effect of friendship groups also holds when people have to work relatively independently towards a joint goal, like when each team member tries to sell as many goods as possible to achieve an impressive sales score for the team. Even though all of these tasks can be achieved by working with acquaintances, it seems that working with friends has the edge.

Why does being friends foster group performance?

While the new meta-analysis can only tell us that it helps, but not why, previously published individual studies give us some clues. Put simply, friends are better at coordinating their actions. And people are more motivated to perform when they work in a group of friends.


 Get The Latest From InnerSelf


This motivation boost can explain why it depends on the specific task as to how much working with friends can help performance. Friendship groups are particularly successful when it comes to tasks where they need to be quick, or to get a lot done. In work of this kind – think, for example, of collecting as much money for charity as possible – being persistent matters a lot. In tasks that are less about motivation than about having the right skills – for example when a team has to come up with the solution for a mathematical puzzle – friendship does not help group performance. But it doesn’t hurt it either.

The take home message

The ConversationWhen we want to perform well as a group, working with friends helps in many cases and is harmless in others. So, this is one of the rewarding cases where scientific findings match personal experience: both as a group researcher and as someone whose favourite collaborators are also friends, I can give the same recommendation as many managers do. Given the benefits that being around your friends has for well-being – and as we now know also for performance – work in a group together with your friends if you can. Or perhaps, try to become friends with your colleagues.

About The Author

Nadira Faber, Research Fellow, University of Oxford

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Related Books:

{amazonWS:searchindex=Books;keywords=group collaboration;maxresults=3}

enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfifrdehiiditjakomsnofaptruessvtrvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}

FROM THE EDITORS

InnerSelf Newsletter: September 6, 2020
by InnerSelf Staff
We see life through the lenses of our perception. Stephen R. Covey wrote: “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are──or, as we are conditioned to see it.” So this week, we take a look at some…
InnerSelf Newsletter: August 30, 2020
by InnerSelf Staff
The roads we are travelling these days are as old as the times, yet are new for us. The experiences we are having are as old as the times, yet they also are new for us. The same goes for the…
When The Truth Is So Terrible It Hurts, Take Action
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com
Amidst all the horrors taking place these days, I am inspired by the rays of hope that shine through. Ordinary people standing up for what is right (and against what is wrong). Baseball players,…
When Your Back Is Against The Wall
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
I love the internet. Now I know a lot of people have a lot of bad things to say about it, but I love it. Just like I love the people in my life -- they are not perfect, but I love them anyway.
InnerSelf Newsletter: August 23, 2020
by InnerSelf Staff
Everyone probably can agree that we are living in strange times... new experiences, new attitudes, new challenges. But we can be encouraged in remembering that everything is always in flux,…