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Working within Teams

Most of us can go on repeating the same ineffective behaviours and somehow hope we will get a different result. This can be particularly challenging while working in teams.

To turn experience into learning, involves one taking some time to oneself and reflecting on one's past week or major event that may have happened. Many of us have to work in teams. Nearly every single workforce is running on ‘teamwork’ in some form or other.

Team development is a process carried out by a team to develop and encourage capabilities and talent, with a common desired goal at the end. The biggest challenge in so many teams is in relation to boundaries, ground rules and expectations. This is often called the stages of forming and norming.

Establishing a collective way of working, requires norms to be established. Attention to unwritten 'rules' can, if not managed well, cause competitive rivalry. This can be referred to as the fight-or-flight stage.

These are all very important stages for any team to go through because working their way through, will allow teams to settle into productive work, within a climate of respect for each individual. We do know that these stages are revisited at times, as new people join teams and new stages of development within the team occur. But encouraging a spirit of partnership, facilitation and enquiry within teams embeds the concept of team and team work.

If we are in a situation where we are struggling with teams it may be useful to look at it from the following perspective: we ( the team) all have a common purpose and a common responsibility for developing this project or product. Establishing a commonality is extremely important within teams, for example the desired outcome, the common goal, the prize at the end.

Many books have been written and talks have been given on teamwork. I tend to summarise teamwork the following way :

1. Continuous improvement.

2. Respect for people.

Continuous improvement.

Keeping things simple can prevent a lot of confusion and biased interpretations. Everybody understands what ‘improvement’ is and everybody understands ‘respect.’ For most people these are two important values in their own personal lives so therefore they become immediately relatable.

Being part of a team that has an understanding that ‘improvement’ is the end goal can keep many group dynamics on track. Being mindful that there are many paths to improvement, encourages open discussion within the team and creates a very transparent platform for discussion, without causing offence to any member of the team. The team develops a mental attitude of collective improvement with a common goal. The ego rests. Each member of the team takes some personal responsibility for their contribution and openness to suggestions submitted, because it is the collective desired goal.

Respect for people.

Teams in which respect is not valued inevitably have problems. Respect within a team encourages trust, which in turn encourages a safe place for people to offer suggestions and proposed solutions without being afraid of negative consequences. The value of respect can be lost very quickly in the fast pace of work as one moves within different teams, but without having respect as the bedrock of a company's ethos, problems are guaranteed. At times respect can be forgotten within the competitiveness of the working world. The task or project may become about individual achievements and potential individual promotions. The ego rises.

Achievements and promotions are very difficult if teams are not cooperating…. task is not completed. We can put our experience into learning by evaluating how we interact with teams and the part we play in contributing to the team or causing division within the team.

Overall I feel working within respectful progressive teams can be exhilarating and energising. Listening to other people's creative ideas and solution focused suggestions, reminds us we are part of something bigger than ourselves and what we do as a collective is important.

Teamwork can be inspiring,


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