The Studio realizes that some of the members of the production team for this project may not have had the opportunity to work on a team before. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines teamwork as follows:
work done by several associates with each doing a part but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole.
Therein lies the reason that being a member of a team can be an exciting and extremely rewarding experience or a very frustrating and unrewarding one. the Studio is sensitive to the needs of the members of a newly formed team as they learn to "subordinate personal prominence" while continuing to make individual contributions. Accordingly, the Studio has provided the following information on teamwork.
Teams usually go through stages as they develop into a cohesive unit. Not every team goes through every stage. Some stages may be passed through quickly, others not. Each team is different. Here is a brief description of four stages you might expect as you move from individuals on a team to a team of individuals.
Excitement and anxiety. Excitement about the project and being on the team. Anxiety about whether and how you will fit into or contribute to the team.
Defining the task and acceptable group behavior. Defining why the
team exists, what its purpose is. Defining what is acceptable behavior in this group, the rules of conduct.
Focusing on the barriers to what can be done. This is part of the larger issue of defining the task. Discussing all the reasons why the team can't be successful.
Discussing things not considered relevant. This happens because the team members are still trying to get to know each other and are struggling with defining the team's purpose and rules.
Realizing the full scope of the task and beginning to feel overwhelmed. Team members now know just what they've taken on, how big the project is. At this point it looks like it's too big or there's too much to accomplish before the deadline.
Disunity. Individuals feel that others are doing too much or not doing enough or have all of the "easy" or "fun stuff" to do.
Arguing with each other even though there is basic agreement on real issues.
Harmony. Team members now have a better understanding of their roles and each other. There is agreement on what needs to be done, how it should be done, and who should do it.
Belief in ultimate success. Team members now feel that the project is "doable" and can envision the final product and what it will be like to have completed it.
Sense of team. Team members feel like a team instead of individuals. The team itself now has a distinct personality, a life of its own.
Acceptance of others' strengths and weaknesses. Each team member knows what the other members can or can't do, are good at or don't do well. The team capitalizes on each member's strengths and minimizes members' weaknesses.
Loyalty to team. Team members support each other and defend the team from any outside attacks, both real or perceived. Team members also talk about the team and its members with pride.
Lots of work starts getting done. This is how you can tell you've reached Stage 4. Enthusiasm is high, tasks get accomplished, and visible progress is being made. Being on the team is fun!
How does a team get to Stage 4?
It takes time and effort. Some "teams" never make it, but most do. Reaching Stage 4 does not mean that all members like each other or are friends. What it does mean is that the individual members have worked through a number of issues and have concluded that the team's goal is worth accomplishing and that being on this team is the way to do it.
The following is a checklist of sorts to help you have a successful team experience. Doing all the things on the list can't guarantee success, but not doing them will almost certainly ensure failure. The list is not exhaustive, so feel free to add your own items.
- The goal/vision/nature of what is to be done is understood and agreed to by everyone. This is probably the most important step in ensuring the team's ultimate success. Every member must clearly understand and agree on exactly what the team's purpose is, why the team exists, and/or what it wants to accomplish.
- Team member roles are clearly understood by everyone.
This is probably the second most important step followed closely by item #3. Each team defines the roles of its members differently. Your team must ensure that its members know what the roles are and which team members are to serve in which roles.
- The responsibilities and accountability of team member roles are clearly defined and understood by everyone.
This is closely tied to item #2. Each role will have its responsibilities. The team must determine what those are and how each team member will be held accountable for carrying out his/her responsibilities.
- The team has developed specific strategies for achieving the goal, including work priorities.
- Tasks do not overlap, nor are there gaps in what needs to be done.
Avoid assigning more than one person to a task. Conversely, make sure each task is assigned to someone.
- Conflict and disagreements are brought into the open and resolved collaboratively within the group.
There will always be differences of opinion. Conflict or disagreement should not be ignored or swept under the table and allowed to turn into resentment or outright sabotage of the team's efforts. As a matter of fact, conflict should not always be viewed as a negative. Teams are usually stronger, more flexible, and more creative if their members regularly express and reconcile differing views.
- Everyone feels he/she can participate and does.
It is important that the atmosphere be one that encourages participation, but it is equally important for each team member to make an effort to contribute his/her knowledge, skills, insight, etc.
- Group members help and support each other.
- Group members recognize, appreciate and use each other's strengths and unique abilities.
- No single person dominates all the time.
- Meetings have an agenda or structure.
Team members will be better prepared if they know in advance what they are expected to discuss or have prepared. The meeting will also proceed in a smoother and more timely manner if there is an agenda.
- Meetings are productive.
This is closely tied to item #11. Meetings are more productive if there is an agenda, but also if decisions are actually made during meetings and/or specific task assignments are given to team members at the end of meetings.
- Reach consensus whenever possible.
Consensus does not mean that the vote was unanimous. What it does mean is that all team members can support the decision; no team member is against it. In other words, while the decision may not be everyone's first choice, everyone can live with it.
tudio 1151 Guidebook by Karen McNally and Alan Levine
Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction (MCLI)
Maricopa Community Colleges
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