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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Team Work and Teams

6/26/2005 Team Work and Teams
Sophia Sinha, Assistant Manager Corporate Marketing Newsletter Home
“The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”
Theodore Roosevelt

How many times have we been asked to work in groups and end up feeling like it’s our worst nightmare come true? We watch the fights, arguments, varied points of view and participate in them but what we fail to find out is where they are stemming from and what we can do about them.
According to Harvey A. Robbins, author of Why Teams Don’t Work, “A team is a group of people doing something together. The something does not make a team; it is the together that makes a team”. We all know that no two persons are completely alike. Also, being randomly assigned to a group, with half of its members unknown to you, can be frustrating and unnerving. But we also realize that no man can live as an island and that eventually, either in school, college or at your work place you will have to work as part of a team.
So what can you do to achieve that harmonious relationship that extends beyond just meetings and roundtable discussions and converts into friendly camaraderie and helps get the best out of your abilities?

Good teams are made, not born. Just as in any relationship, it takes effort to make a team run. Here are some things that can be kept in mind while working in a team:

  1. Make an effort: Try to get to know your team members. Breaking the ice over coffee or some other informal activity really helps. It is important to have some kind of a relationship going with your team mates. This does not mean that you have to spill your emotional problems to them but it does help to tell them a bit about yourself before you venture on that month long project together.
  2. Find out objectives: Find out from your teammates what they want to get out of the project. High grades, a résumé opportunity, a job? This will help in figuring out commitment levels in your team.
  3. Set Goals: Try to figure out what has to be done, by whom, by when and then set timelines. Make sure to set these on paper and keep updating each other on what is going on. Setting it in print will make it tough for the slacker to get away with not doing the job.
  4. Discuss problems / issues: It is important to keep your peers informed of any problem you may be facing with regard to your work. If there is something that does not make sense to you, ask your colleague to help you figure it out.
  5. Ask Questions: There is nothing wrong in asking questions. Would you rather keep quiet out of embarrassment or face the wrath of your team later? Ask them to clear your doubts. You are in a team, they will understand.
  6. Answer Questions: Just as you expect them to answer your queries, do the same. If a teammate is not able to understand something, help him / her with it. Not all of us are born geniuses; some help always goes a long way and hey, you may just end up making a friend for life!
  7. Evaluate: Always evaluate your peers. It helps to know what you think of the work done by your team. If your college does not have this system, incorporate it. All universities in the United States have a system by which students evaluate their peers. This helps the professor know how the team worked and what each student contributed. If not possible, then integrate it within your own group.
It is important to know that “The most egregious toxins in team atmosphere are competition, tyranny, and assorted forms of team foolishness, including mob behavior. There is no such thing called “friendly competition.” (Harvey A. Robbins, Why Teams Don’t Work). Leave the competition outside unless it is healthy competition and the team benefits from it.

Teams that work together succeed; there has been no team that has won without team spirit and unity. Recognize the flaws and appreciate the good. Finally always remember, “There is no ‘I’ in the word TEAM!”

Sophia Sinha
Corporate Marketing
Infosys Technologies Ltd.

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