A legendary American basketball player, Michael Jordan or MJ, was quoted saying, “Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships.” Needless to say, the skills of working as a team member come in useful a plenty of times in different life circumstances.
During our studying, we must participate in a variety of group projects, workshops, learning cafes, etc. Developed and advanced teamwork skills beyond a shadow of doubt will be essential in the future career. So, how can we make the team great and collaboration win-win? Or simply not step on someone’s toes and cross swords with fellow students?
There are several ways to master the art of team building. At first, any team starts with open communication. It is better to bring everything onto the table. Do not hesitate to ask questions or state your expectations, nobody will judge you or blame your enthusiasm. It will help you build trust in team relationships and prevent many misunderstandings.
Everyone sitting at King Arthur’s and his knights’ Round Table was of equal importance. Therefore, it is essential to understand that every member of the team is vital and has his or her strong sides and talents. No opinions must be ignored and no votes must be neglected. It might be a great idea to develop a collaboration plan and put everything into words: common goals, decision-making process, troubleshooting, etc.
Frequently, the team fails because of improper workload sharing. You can start with recording all jobs to be done and building a tasks list. After that, it will be much easier to divide the work and track the progress. The most important issues should be discussed jointly, so the one responsible for this part of the project will know what the teammates’ thoughts and expectations are.
Of course, in your team there might be a free rider who influences negatively the team’s productivity and common results. In such a situation, the leader should discuss the existing problem openly with the group and contact a supervisor.
Now a few words about the leader. For some work he is de rigueur, but very often the team can work collaboratively even without a clear project manager. If a team leader is named, he or she must not carry too much of weight, but empower teammates. A good leader must listen carefully, communicate, motivate and inspire the team members to apply their skills and abilities effectively. It is always better to make a decision by majority vote and not to push or take over.
It is noteworthy to say a few words about the growing diversity of the teammates. Students can differ by race, ethnicity, gender, and spoken language. Be sure to use the advantages of such differences. For instance, you may check academic literature written in different languages or use the knowledge of the teammate’s country of origin. Furthermore, unlikeness opens new ways of thinking and drives generating new ideas and better decision-making.
There are some useful tips for the teams to use:
– Create an online social media group (i.e. Facebook), but be sure that everyone uses it;
– Share each other’s telephone numbers for emergencies;
– Flip chart boards are an extremely useful means of communication and assure that no idea will be lost;
– Arrange face-to-face or Skype meetings regularly to check on progress;
– Post and share all work finished and in progress, so the team members will know what has been done and whether help is needed;
– Use online free tools for organizing the teamwork (i.e. Edo App, Slack, etc.);
– Brainstorming and mind maps are useful in the idea generation process;
– Always leave some extra time to check the final work and practice the final presentation.
Lastly, in togetherness, castles are built! Therefore, a great team can overcome any obstacles and challenges on the way to success. As a team member, you will be able to not only develop and improve your interpersonal skills, but find new friends and understand yourself better.
The writer is a master student from Belarus, adventure seeker and life enthusiast, passionate about the environment.