At different stages in life, you will find yourself working with a team. In an educational environment, it’s fair to say that working with other people is unavoidable. Each person in a team is different from the next, so this means that working with others can be difficult sometimes. With differences in culture, background and behaviour, and with different ideas floating around, it is not uncommon to have disagreements or run into problems while in a team.
Whether it is group work for a class project presentation or assignment, here’s how to work effectively with other people and make the best out of teamwork:
- Build your communication skills: To get tasks done as a team, you need to be able to communicate your thoughts and ideas clearly. You should be able to express your feelings to your team members and ask questions when you are unsure of something. Non-verbal communication is also important when you’re working with people; understanding social cues and gestures from others is important to help you communicate better.
- Be respectful: In most cases, teams have a leader, who can be assigned by the teacher, or voted by members of the team. The purpose of a team lead is to guide the team and keep everything in order. Team lead or not, respect is important for everyone. When other members are speaking or making contributions, don’t be rude by shutting them up or dismissing what they are saying. Listen to what everyone has to say and make your own contributions in an orderly manner. Remember to treat people how you would like people to treat you.
- Set goals as a group: This is very important in getting any task done at all. Even if your teacher has instructed the team on what to do, it always helps to set goals together as a team. This could also include delegation of tasks by the team leader, where each person in a group is assigned a particular role. If everyone is aware of their role and the goals that have been set, then work will be done more efficiently. Also, this makes it easier to see who is not making any contributions to the group.
- Be open to feedback: It’s normal for other members of the team to sometimes disagree with what you have said or vice versa. The best way to approach this is to receive any feedback or criticism and learn from it. If everyone is calm and respectful in such a situation, then progress will be made. You don’t need to feel bad if others don’t agree with your ideas; feel free to ask why and then think of better ideas together with the team.
- Be aware of time: In many cases, group projects will require you to have meetings or fulfil in-group deadlines before the final work is completed. Everyone has other things that they have to do with their time, so you have to try your best to meet your deadlines on time and show up early for team meetings. If everyone decides to show up late or do things slowly, then progress won’t be made and the tasks at hand can’t be completed.
- Stay focused: Being lively with your teammates is a good thing, especially because it can motivate people to get work done. However, remember that you’ve been put into a team with other people for a particular reason: to get a task done. Don’t get distracted during meetings or when work is being done. Making jokes and keeping everyone positive is always encouraged, but this shouldn’t be done excessively or to distract others.
Some people may say that they dislike working in teams, but it’s best to know how to do so because you will have to work with people at certain points in life. When you progress to higher education at university, you will be doing a lot of group work and assignments. People can be difficult too, but if you have the skills needed to work effectively in a team, even with such difficult people, then you’ll do just fine!