Can you hear the grumbling?

It’s the second week of class for my students in Mountain State University’s BSOL online program.

So far, working on teams has been challenging for my students.

At school or in the workplace, working with others can be difficult. Here’s why:

When people work on teams,

  • they have to depend on others.
  • they feel frustrated if everyone doesn’t contribute equal effort to the assignment.
  • they struggle to get people to finish their work on-time or according to their high standards.
  • communication with team members isn’t as easy as they’d like: people ignore emails, fail to return phone calls.
  • their performance and success are contingent on others.

Have you ever voiced these frustrations?

Sometimes it seems easier to work independently. We may feel like it’s easier to complete a project ourselves; we may struggle to find a time our team can meet; we may resent that our job performance will be evaluated on the basis of another’s work.

So why bother? And what can we do to regain enthusiasm for working on teams?

When we work on teams, we can depend on others. Our team members often have strength, abilities, and ideas that we don’t have. Take time to recognize the value that your team members have to contribute. Depending on others can be a positive experience.

When we work on teams, we gain from others’ contributions. It’s impossible to clearly quantify what each team member adds to a group assignment or project. Does it really matter? Sometimes you may take on more; other times, a team member may step up with more. What matters is the pride you can all share in your finished work.

Working on teams requires patience, tact, and clear communication. Sometimes when team members aren’t performing the way we want them to, patience is all we have. A leader may help a team function at its best by clearly outlining expectations and deadlines, but frustration is inevitable.

When we work on teams, we have the potential for great success. Collaborating with others refines our ideas, sharpens our skills, and multiplies our effort. We can do far more with others than we can do alone.

The team assignments in MSU’s leadership programs are about more than the academic content of each week’s lesson. By working in teams, students work through issues — while in a safe environment. Each team member takes a turn as the leader and gains the opportunity to experiment with team communication, trying new methods and strategies to get the job done.

You know what? I don’t mind the grumbling, because it’s a sign that the learning exercise is effective. It’s making the students uncomfortable enough to try something new in working with others.

Join the conversation!

What frustrations have you experienced with team projects on the job?

What has worked for you in creating successful teams?

This was originally posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is re-posted with permission.