As I prepare to enter the online MARA program through San Jose State, I feel lucky for having had many years of work-at-home experience. Many of my former employers offered work-at-home days, knowing that the the employees could use the quiet time to write and/or analyze reports, meet with overseas colleagues via phone or Skype, and intensely focus on work without having someone knocking at the office door. And having consulted with various clients worldwide for the past 20 months, I’ve grown used to working off-hours and adjusting to the needs of various clients. As such, I feel relatively prepared to become an online student, knowing that much of my interaction with my cohort and instructors will take place online and in an asynchronous manner.
Having recently listened to two different presentations on the importance of effective teamwork, I’ve been thinking back to previous team-related work experiences, and what went right, and what went wrong. Teamwork, when done well, can produce awesome results and incredible goodwill amongst team mates. But it can be challenging to bring together a group of people, and ask them to cooperate. The common denominator of my team work experiences boil down to communication…when the members communicated well, great things happened; when they didn’t, the final product was often a disappointment. While I won’t go into specifics, I will say that I have been on teams that experienced many of Dr. Haycock’s “5 Dysfunctions of Teams,” which are as follows:
- Absence of trust
- Fear of conflict
- Lack of commitment
- Avoidance of accountability
- Inattention to results
And Enid Erwin’s list of negative behaviors: silent, absent, controlling, and stubborn have also been forces that I’ve learned to work with in previous workplaces.
Now, having listened to both presentations, I look forward to using Dr. Haycock’s “Stages of Team Development”–either as a team member or leader–to recognize and move beyond these challenges, to create effective teams and projects. These stages consist of:
- Forming (creating the team)
- Storming (learning about each other’s differences, challenging each other, and visualizing how to work together)
- Norming (utilizing individuals strengths and establishing process)
- Performing (using established processes to succeed)
Ms. Erwin’s presentation also provided some keys to successful teamwork, including the importance of positive attitudes, an eagerness to collaborate and learn from each other, effective communication, and taking the time to create a realistic and beneficial process.
These two presentations were ultimately quite similar in scope; the main difference being that Dr. Haycock’s presentation was procedural, and Ms. Erwin’s was informal and casual. Both provided some great tips and advice for identifying weaknesses in individuals and groups, and how to move beyond them to create strong teams. My main takeaway? The reinforcement that successful teamwork is based on regular and respectful communication amongst team members.