In college, you’re definitely going to belong to at least one team, whether that be for a class, sports team, or internship. Learning how to effectively work with others during your college career is important because there are few careers post-graduation that don’t involve working on teams! I’m sure we’ve all had experiences working on a team that weren’t so effective, whether that be because of lukewarm commitment from certain members, clashing personalities, or conflicting ideas. Here are some aspects of effective teamwork to keep in mind when you’re in those situations so you can get work done efficiently!
Define a clear mission and approach
Clarifying what your team is trying to achieve and how it aims to do so is an essential task to complete early on in the project. Members must share a commitment to the goals and understand the expectations for the amount of work and time they need to commit to the project or organization. If you find your team is lacking structure, try setting clear roles for members. This way, what is expected of them. Remember, everyone comes to a team barring different strengths and skills that they can offer. Clarifying the team’s overall mission is important, so that team members know how their individual efforts are playing into the final product or outcome.
Foster an open environment where dissent is welcome
The great thing about a team is that it brings together people with diverse backgrounds and skillsets. When you have different perspectives and opinions on your team, the chance of producing innovative ideas increases. According to an article about effective teamwork from The Balance Careers, “the team creates an environment in which people are comfortable taking reasonable risks in communicating, advocating positions, and taking action.” If members of your team are not comfortable disagreeing or proposing new ideas, your team might be experiencing a groupthink situation. According to Psychology Today, groupthink occurs when a well-intentioned group makes irrational or non-optimal decisions out of the urge to conform or fear of dissent. You want to watch out for groupthink when working on your teams because respectful disagreement and discussion will ultimately improve the outcome of your teamwork. An effective team environment is one where everyone feels comfortable sharing their opinions.
Resolve problems and conflicts
Resolving problems and conflicts is important if you want your team to be effective and efficient. While it may be tempting when friendship is involved, picking sides during team member personality conflicts does not support the resolution of the conflict. Your team should work towards a mutual resolution of problems and disagreements. According to a Forbes article, all members feel visible, valued, and involved in effective teams. Therefore, if one member doesn’t feel this way, something needs to be addressed. If a conflict or clash comes up on your team, it needs to be resolved, so that you can continue tackling your goals. Nobody will be motivated to work if there is tension in the group, right?
Working on teams will continue to be a part of our college and post-graduation careers, so let’s work on growing our teamwork skills now! If you feel like your team is lacking in some of these areas, communicate that with them. Other members of your team might be feeling the same way and will appreciate you stepping up. CWIB believes in your power to lead effective teams and empower your peers to achieve your goals!
By: Allison DeSantis