When I think about teamwork I have a ‘Teamwork song’ from Wonder Pets cartoon. A duck, hamster and a turtle sing that whatever the problem is, it can be solved by working as a team. Working in a group can be fun but sometimes can be also difficult.
This semester we spoke a lot about the teamwork, creativity and the environment we work in. We spend hours debating where creativity comes from and why some teams work better than the others. I was wondering if the perfect team is a matter of luck, destiny or if it actually can be ‘created’.
What is a team? According to the Business dictionary(2019) it’s ‘a group of people with a full set of complementary skills required to complete a task, job, or a project’. A successful team therefore, requires individuals to have specific skills needed to accomplish the task. However, ‘analyzing and improving individual workers — a practice known as ‘‘employee performance optimization’’ — isn’t enough’ (Duhigg,Ch.2016). What factors decide on the teams’ success? To find an answer to this question Google started project Aristotele, where they did research on their employees. After gathering the data they couldn’t find a clear answer or even a pattern, but they discovered that groups which understood and respected group norms were more efficient. ‘The right norms, in other words, could raise a group’s collective intelligence, whereas the wrong norms could hobble a team, even if, individually, all the members were exceptionally bright.’ (Duhigg,2016). In order to work well all members of the group have to achieve psychological safety.
Psychological safety = conversational turn-taking + ostentatious listening.
In this environment everyone has a chance to talk and express the weirdest and most embarrassing ideas and they will know that others will listen. Show a respect and sensitivity to other peoples’ feelings and needs.
When I was in a dance school, we got a task to choreograph a piece on the topic of our choice. Our classmates and colleagues were our dancers. Contemporary dance has reputation of being ‘a weird form of dance’ as it tackles serious problem and often personal experiences. This path has been followed by some colleagues of mine, who decided to created pieces on personal experiences. They had to give a detailed insight of their story to the dancers. Often those rehearsals were very emotional and sometimes overwhelming, but definitely inspiring. The whole process, of course depended a lot on the maturity of the dancers, however most of the times we were left with a sense of connection between the participants and a different level of sympathy for the person who shared the story. Without knowing each other very well we created a bond, which grew even more throw-out the entire process. I think this atmosphere translated directly on the teamwork and made our rehearsals more productive and the work more fulfilling.
In the Charles Duhigg article one of the employees said:
‘‘I think, until the off-site, I had separated things in my head into work life and life life, but the thing is, my work is my life. I spend the majority of my time working. Most of my friends I know through work. If I can’t be open and honest at work, then I’m not really living, am I?’’
It is hard to find a perfect team but it is not impossible. I think empathising with people we work with is essential. Working in the team for several months gave me a better understanding of how different people work, how they feel and what they goals are, not only towards the start-up but also in life. Individual qualities and values were reflected in the teamwork. Understanding those motives were important for the success of a start-up and teamwork. For the future, I will try implement those principals from the beginning of the process whether it will be a dance project or another star-up, as I truly believe that this will bring better results and motivation for the members of the team.
BusinessDictionary.com. (2019). Which of your friends needs to learn this term?. [online] Available at: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/team.html [Accessed 19 Apr. 2019].
Duhigg, C. (2016). What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html [Accessed 19 Apr. 2019].