As the saying goes: teamwork makes the dream work. Teamwork is definitely one of the most important attributes of success in the professional and corporate world and thus, it is an essential life skill that one ought to be equipped with. Yet, you prefer to work independently than in a team. When the boss assigns you to work in a team project, you might cringe at the thought of the countless hours spent interacting with others, and the possible late-night meetings so tense that you could cut through the atmosphere with a paper knife; not to mention the fear of meeting people that you do not work well with who might then become your work adversaries.
Yet, working in teams is an inevitable part of our lives, especially when you enter the workforce. Recall the time when you did teamwork in school. This could be Project Work during A levels or group projects during your poly or university days. The point here is that you’re no stranger to working in a team.
For someone who prefers to work independently, here are some tips to help you rediscover your team working abilities.
Identify a common goal
No team comes together without a common identity, objective or purpose. It is inevitable for everyone to have different visions of the outcome of the project, but through non-confrontational, friendly discussions, you are more likely to be able to arrive at a consensus on overlapping objectives. This could be combined to form a team purpose and vision.
How do we establish a common goal?
There are many ways for a team to arrive at a common goal. You can do your part by being quick and positive in your responses. Start the ball rolling by sharing your views first and facilitating the discussion. This would be a great head start to a productive team session, with a good flow of ideas.
To better understand your team dynamics, you can suggest trying out an online framework called the Team Canvas. It is a free online tool that empowers team members to align their goals, get everyone on the same page and resolve conflicts. This framework is inspired by Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas and serves as an effective tool to foster cohesion among teams.
Below is an example of a Team Canvas model.
There are two versions of the framework: Team Canvas basic is meant for short-term projects, taking about half an hour to complete, whereas Team Canvas provides a more complete and critical version of the canvas that is meant for long-term projects and is better suited for resolving conflicts.
In both versions, keep in mind three key ideas:
1. Your team’s roles and goals (both common and personal)
2. Your team’s purpose and values
3. How your team is going to achieve what it needs to achieve (rules and activities)
Identify your own strengths and weaknesses
Being the ‘newest’ member of the team isn’t an easy situation to be in. Coupled with a demanding and fast-paced work environment, you might find yourself at a loss on how to value-add to your team.
It would therefore be helpful to identify your own strengths and weaknesses. One way to do so is through the Manual of Me. The Manual of Me (https://www.manualof.me) is an online tool that illustrates the concept of a user manual. This website aids you in creating a personal user manual; one that you’d like to share with your team members.
A user manual helps you understand how you are and how you approach your work. Take some time to reflect and understand yourself. Below are some suggestions:
1) What is your working/ leadership/ communication style?
2) What are the conditions you like to work in?
3) What are the best ways to communicate with me?
4) What are your values?
5) What are your strengths?
6) What are some things you need to work on?
Ultimately, the user manual is one that constantly evolves over time and is not exhaustive. It is customisable towards your needs and requirements. Take your time to write the content and slowly build up one of good quality.
Hopefully, this article provides you with practical and insightful tips. While transiting from a student to a full-time employee, it would be good to check out these websites and apply these (along with the tips we gave) into your life. All the best!
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