Three Tips for Teamwork in School and Life
By Courtney White, Stride Career Prep Success Coach
So it happens. You’re sitting in class and your teacher assigns a group project—one where you don’t get to choose your partners. For some of you, this may spawn immediate anxiety. But working within a team doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience. In fact, Steve Jobs once said, “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” Mastering the art of successful teamwork is not only going to boost your progress, social skills, and adaptability in high school. Still, it will definitely be pivotal to your success after high school as you venture into your career. Here are three key ingredients to make working within a group or team a success:
One of the greatest things about working in a team is it’s a perfect time to innovate and show your creativity. The team is literally depending on your idea! This means that any unique thoughts you have to contribute to the task or project are necessary and needed. Have confidence in your creative thought process and share it with your team. You may be surprised to learn how far your idea can soar when teammates add their contributions and feedback. Having others support you while also lending your creative support to their ideas will allow for a successful project and increased competence for communicating and working within future teams.
Effective communication is required to complete any successful team project or assignment. Did you know that active listening is the essential component of communication? This means staying engaged when others speak and present ideas, asking questions to ensure understanding, and restating key points to accomplish clarity. Another important detail of active listening and communication is providing feedback. As your teammates offer suggestions and input, you can demonstrate active listening and good communication by summarizing your teammates’ ideas periodically. This technique can help provide clarity for the entire team and shows that you are a team player and a leader! Avoid negative judgments or unhelpful opinions, especially while your teammates are speaking. Make sure if you must disagree to do so respectfully and pose an alternative suggestion. Allow all teammates’ ideas to be expressed until the group is on one accord.
Remember earlier when it was mentioned that the team depends on your creative ideas? This means you must be responsible for seeing your commitment to the team through the end. Set goals for yourself to complete your contribution in a timely manner. An optional bonus would be to set a goal that allows for early completion of your task with enough remaining time to assist others if needed. This extra step reveals your unmatched partnership and will display your team allegiance. Teammates must also be held accountable. Setting and demonstrating high standards for your team and encouraging team members to push through obstacles that cause poor performance are great examples of holding accountability in ways that won’t cause social discomfort. Another helpful way to succeed in team accountability is by reviewing measurable progress toward your team’s goal. Establish a system where one or more people check on the status of your team’s goals and completion to ensure everyone stays on track.
It’s not always easy to work within a group or team. Many different personalities and work styles exist that can complicate matters, but it doesn’t have to. Showing the ability to work well within a team is a major key in securing jobs and other opportunities. Each time you are presented the chance to work within a group, don’t let shyness or social anxiety stop you. Take the chance! Practice the skills that compose successful teamwork in your daily life, and you can become the most sought-after teammate in any group.
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