Interdependence in the workplace is the way employees interact and relate with each other, drawing from each person's contribution so that a greater goal is reached. As individuals working either dependently or independently, workers would not be able to accomplish the goals of the organization as successfully because of the imbalance created from not utilizing everyone's skill sets appropriately.
Interdependence is defined as two or more entities being mutually dependent on each other. According to manufacturing training company ToolingU, interdependence is "The idea that two parties in a conflict need each other to complete their own tasks." Interdependence is the solution to either dependence or independence, which both represent extremes that come with disadvantages. Interdependence comes through delegation and collaboration of both leadership and employees within an organization.
Best of Both Worlds
Interdependence, rather, is a combination of both dependence and independence. For example, a dependent worker would be unable to complete a task on his own without constant input or support from another co-worker or supervisor, which could put a strain on that worker and the project. Likewise, an independent worker would be unable to work well as part of a team, being only able to complete individual tasks apart from other workers. Working interdependently means each worker can offer individual contributions that other workers require to do their own tasks.
Collaboration, or teamwork, among workers is interdependence in action. It can create an outcome that otherwise would not be possible if all tasks depended only on one person doing them separately. Teamwork allows for a melting pot of unlimited possibilities in a workplace because it combines a variety of skills, talents, levels of experience and types of personalities to provide input for work projects. However, the disadvantage of collaborative interdependence is when the presence of others causes distractions to an individual worker's thought process. A balance must be made between collaborating together and having alone time for each person to process her particular contribution with quiet, privacy and focus.
Delegation is a time-management tool that utilizes co-workers' interdependence to complete tasks and projects. A supervisor can delegate tasks to other workers who can apply more attention, time or expertise to the task than the supervisor would be able to on her own. For example, if the supervisor has an enormous list of tasks competing for the same level of priority, it could be detrimental to the supervisor and the company for her to attempt all tasks herself and risk poor quality or missed deadlines. If she delegates some of the tasks to subordinates or other fellow supervisors in the department, everyone benefits from the tasks being completed successfully. ''Entrepreneur'' magazine identifies two types of tasks that are good candidates for delegation: repetitive tasks that are non-creative, and one-time special projects.
- Dictionary.com: Interdependent
- ToolingU: What Is the Definition of "Interdependence"?
- Entrepreneur: Tip #66 - Delegate One Big Job
- Inc.: Does Collaboration Actually Hurt Productivity?
- LeadingEffectively.com: Interdependent Leadership Cultures - Leading Effectively (PDF)
- JSTOR: Interdependence in the Labour Market
Anna Windermere started her writing and editing career in 1993, upon graduating from the University of Florida's esteemed journalism school with a bachelor's in journalism. Ms. Windermere, a senior-level copy editor, has appeared in mastheads of newspapers and magazines as copy chief, writer and proofreader, including "Sun-Sentinel," "Miami Herald," "City Link," "New Times," "NewBeauty," "Luxe," "Florida Alligator," "Orange & Blue," and more.