You don’t live, work or go to school in complete isolation, so having to work in a collaborative environment on occasion is inevitable. Many people take teamwork for granted and don’t really think about the effort that’s needed to achieve a goal in collaboration with others. Because you’re not working alone, you’ll have to consider the input of others and this can sometimes be difficult. It’s important to keep your eye on the prize—or in this case, the goal of the project. Here are some tips for mastering teamwork:
1. Learn to Listen and Listen to Learn
Listening skills are great to have in virtually any situation—whether you’re pursuing studies at a personal support worker college, a community services worker school or even a business management school—listening will definitely be a prerequisite of any environment where you’re expected to communicate with people on a daily basis. But when you’re part of a team, listening is absolutely essential. In a collaborative environment it’s likely that everyone will have different ideas and opinions. It takes a good listener to understand and consider these ideas and assess whether they will help in achieving the goal. As a good listener, you’ll also be able to absorb constructive criticism without getting defensive.
2. Constructive Criticism is a Two Way Street
If you can give it, you should also be able to take it. As a member of a team, it’s crucial to remain open to any and all feedback—you might even encourage it. Not only will feedback help in achieving the goal of the project, but it will also help you evolve as an individual. Perhaps a team member has pointed something out about you or an idea you’ve provided that you’ve not considered before—take this as a learning opportunity and set out to improve it. The same goes for others, so don’t be afraid of providing feedback as well. Remember: every team member has the same goal in mind!
3. Nip Conflict in the Bud
Learn to expect the unexpected—a conflict can always present itself when you’re part of a group. Everyone has their own thoughts and opinions, and unfortunately they sometimes clash with your own. You can’t force someone to think the way you do, so you’ll have to learn to settle disagreements like a champ instead. Learn to manage the conflict productively—the last thing you want is for the goal to be put on hold so the group can deal with issues that weren’t resolved from the beginning. Address conflict at its root—it doesn’t need to be prolonged and the quicker it’s cleared up, the better. Get to know your teammates before beginning the project—engaging them in conversation can establish an open environment where everyone will feel comfortable speaking freely.
4. The Only Person Responsible For You, Is You
Each member of a team should be aware of his or her role and what is expected of them. Once the group has been established, the best way to proceed is to elect a team leader who will be in charge of delegating the responsibilities. When the tasks have been distributed, each team member can be held accountable for the one they’ve been given—and they can also hold others accountable. This will encourage everyone to complete their obligations while working to achieve the goal.
5. Flexibility (Not the Type Provided by Yoga)
Between school, work, and home, it’s hard to find time to meet outside of school or work. Having a certain amount of flexibility is important because you’ll all need to meet at some point to organize a plan of action. With all of the networking technology available today, you might not even have to leave home to meet up. Try scheduling a meeting via Skype or a conference call—this is a great way to save travel time.