Learning to be a Team Player
One of the most difficult things you encounter in your working life is working as part of a team. It’s probably the number one reason you might a) leave your job or b) not get it in the first place. It is terrifically difficult to be good at working in a team. It’s nothing personal, we all loathe it. But it can certainly be effective and it can even be fun. Really. The secret is balance, regular communication, respect and honesty. The old saying ‘do as you would be done by’ is a great mantra for team-working.
If you’ve ever been a student you’ll remember with cold horror those group projects where at least some of your group simply did nothing and you were powerless to change their behaviour, total laziness and non contribution. Yet they got credit at the end for your work! This is exactly how it is at work, with the key difference that lazy team members get reprimanded, or worse, fired. Don’t be that person! But my own view is don’t turn into the team tyrant either, a hateful creature. If you get to be team leader, learn that fabulous skill of inclusivity so that everyone feels in the loop, valuable to the end results and part of the decision making. Respect must always be earned, no matter how senior the management or leadership position. In teamwork, the team leader should be the go-to for problem solving, support and mature calm in the face of panic. Team members should support each other, and work together – that means listening as well as talking.
When we teach at university using group work, we are attempting to teach team skills, multiple viewpoint working and respect for co-workers. It’s one of the biggest challenges to undergraduate learning, the whole experience of group work. Countless tears, arguments and even student disciplinary measures are as a result of group work.
Learn more about effective team working:
We run HR courses at Agilis so get in touch if you’re in Malta. Check out these helpful links too:
- http://hrcouncil.ca/hr-toolkit/workplaces-teams.cfm – useful HR team toolkit
- http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/team-working.html – covers Belbin’s ( a big name in teamwork) team roles
- https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/skills-and-competencies/300764-teamwork-its-high-on-the-graduate-recruiters-wishlist – aimed at graduates
- http://about.brighton.ac.uk/ask/undergraduates/essays-and-assignments/group-work/ – advice from Brighton university on student group work
Author: Pen ListerPen Lister is Academic Lead at Agilis, and has fifteen plus years in tech and new media, the last ten years spent lecturing at a London University. She’s now living in Malta, doing a PhD in augmented reality learning.
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