Teamwork Doesn’t Have to be a Headache
There are many aspects to our work lives that pose us challenges. Maybe it’s a long and arduous commute, a demanding boss or a cramped work space. Maybe you have trouble focusing in the mid-afternoon. Whatever your particular work challenge, it’s almost certain that you aren’t alone, and like everyone else, you’re probably constantly trying to find ways to improve what you don’t like about your work life.
Collaborating is something that most of us have had to do our entire lives, whether it was building a treehouse with our parents or siblings as a kid, playing team sports, working on the science fair project or finishing a lab assignment in college. When we enter the work force, collaboration and teamwork is arguably more important than ever, yet oddly more difficult to do effectively. If you find yourself struggling during collaborative efforts at work, have no fear. We’ve got a few tips for better collaboration so you can help create a stronger, more efficient team.
Know Your Role Well
If your collaborative effort requires a reasonable amount of creativity, you need to counter that freedom with organization. Make certain that your role and responsibilities are spelled out clearly, perhaps in actual writing, so you always know what you’re expected to contribute. Let your creative juices flow, but try not to interfere with other team members’ efforts to do the same.
Communication is Key
One of the most vital, and neglected, aspects of effective teamwork is communicating with your team members. Too often, a collaborative project inspires immediate feelings of competition among co-workers, when in actuality, feeling competitive can impede the quest for success. Even if you think a particular co-worker’s ideas are weak or irrelevant, you must find a way to communicate how and why you think that and also, the ways in which you can improve upon those ideas. Keep a steady balance of honesty and kindness in your tone of voice, and remember that you are only a fraction of the team effort.
Play to Your Strengths
Another important part of being an effective team member is being honest about your own abilities. If you are delegated a task that you don’t feel you can accomplish effectively, you must speak up immediately, especially if time is of the essence. Knowing your own abilities and communicating them clearly to your teammates will save the fuss and frustration of struggling with a task or role you know isn’t suited to you and will help everyone else make the necessary adjustments to stay on track.
Team morale is paramount in keeping everyone in high, confident and creative spirits. But how often do you take the time to encourage your teammates individually? A simple compliment or word of affirmation can do wonders at helping unite your team and keep everyone thinking and working in positive spirits. Human beings feed off of one another’s emotional outputs, so if you’re sending good energy into the work space, chances are your teammates will do the same.
Check Your Ego at the Door
The old saying “There’s No “I” in Team” is never more applicable than when egos clash in a group environment, creating lasting and detrimental rifts in the teamwork structure. When you enter a collaborative project with a grandiose idea of yourself and your abilities, you’ll likely see each and every effort the team makes in terms of your own interests and ego. You cannot bring an inflated ego to a collaborative effort; be honest with yourself when a teammate has a better idea than you. Be willing to see each and every teammate’s ideas or proposals as possibilities, regardless of your own stance. When you leave your ego at the door, you’re a much more palatable and resourceful team member.
Accept the Inevitability of Conflicts
In a particularly tense collaboration environment, you might find yourself in a heated argument with someone to whom you haven’t spoken a cross word in your life. Internalizing and taking personally the inevitable conflicts that arise in the collaborative environment is absolutely damaging to your productivity as a team member. Accept that human beings are going to butt heads when working together, and that no perfectly harmonious unit ever existed in the history of collaboration. Make every effort to resolve any conflicts effectively and maturely, and don’t hold grudges. At the end of the day, you’re still the member of a team, and your ability to move on from confrontation will do you a great service when the project is on the line.
By way of human nature, team work and collaborating will never be easy. But it can be easier. Go into your next collaborative environment with a positive attitude, knowing your abilities and strengths and being resigned to the possibility of conflict. Everyone can be an effective team member; you just have to know where to start.kool_skatkat via photopin cc