Teams in the modern world have taken on a different structure, becoming increasingly diverse and dynamic with the onset of globalisation and digital technology. This makes the management of teams and ensuring effectiveness challenging as compatibility, competitiveness, and information require significant attention. “A compelling direction, a strong structure, and a supportive context—continue to be particularly critical to team success” (Haas & Mortensen 2016, para. 2). Teamwork can be emphasised through the establishment of these specific enabling conditions which contribute to a shared mindset. As a team member and potential leader, I learned the importance of creating a beneficial environment for teamwork to thrive in through my behaviour, expectations, and contributions.
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In order for a group of people to effectively collaborate and ensure long-term teamwork on a project, there must be a sense of self-awareness in each member. It is a realistic profile of one’s skills and abilities as well as expectations from co-workers. It may be human nature to have distorted self-awareness and inflated self-worth; however, it is critical for collaboration. It “impacted the quality of decision-making, teamwork, coordinating with other people, effectively managing conflict” (Huppke 2015, para. 11). Self-awareness allows evaluating personal strength and weaknesses which contributes to allowing input from others and serves as a drive for improvement. By taking accountability for one’s behaviour, each worker in the team can take a thoughtful approach to their responsibilities.
However, self-awareness is not a built-in mechanism and requires competent implementation in a team setting. “First, cultivating self-awareness takes time and commitment. Second, many organisations consider team-building from an event-driven perspective and don’t make it a continuous process” (Beier 2016, para. 5). It is rare to see team members completely self-unaware, and most people support the need for growth and improvement. However, a range of subconscious communication behaviours such as defensiveness to feedback can be detrimental to effective collaboration. Self-awareness must be based on proper intentions and requires guidance and time to achieve. Managers can aid this process by emphasising the concept on a continuous basis rather than during periodical team events. In this instance, a team can display appropriate self-awareness and function in critical moments to demonstrate collaboration.
A critical concept which demonstrates teamwork in any environment is emotional intelligence which consists of identity and reputation. It is a matter of perspective which defines the relationships and dynamics within a collective of people. “For most people, there is a disparity between identity and reputation that can cause them to ignore feedback and derail” (Chamorro-Premuzic & Sanger 2017, para.5). Self-awareness and emotional intelligence go hand in hand with improvement, particularly of interpersonal skills. By training or fine-tuning emotional intelligence in a worker, there is a profound effect on collaborative processes. Emotional intelligence helps with an appreciation of contributions and competent distribution of work according to strengths. It is also beneficial in leading discussions as emotional intelligence helps to sense the level of engagement and comfort within specific contexts. As a result, are opportunities for contribution, motivation, and networking which are irreplaceable in interpersonal collaboration within a professional environment.
Within the context of teamwork, interpersonal skills are based on the ability to establish social communication to fulfil one’s responsibilities. It is a complex and multi-faceted concept which has been found to improve productivity significantly. Cohesive teams show increased support for innovation and frequency of interaction, which leads to a sense of support from colleagues. “When groups achieve high results – and definitely we consider this fact as a positive experience for the group – groups start to develop shared attitudes and interact more intensively” (Ceschi, Dorofeeva & Sartori 2014, p. 222). A closely-bonded and well-communicating group is able to undertake more complex challenges since they exhibit better decision-making which is considerate of all opinions and a quicker group learning process due to overwhelming internal support within a team.
The most essential and critical concept of teamwork is communication, without which it would be impossible to work with other people. “On a primary level, communication is all about exchanging information, whether that means brainstorming as a group, delegating responsibilities, setting expectations or alerting others to a problem” (Alton 2016, para. 1). However, communication is more complex than merely relaying a message. It establishes a connection between two individuals, which in its own way forms a relationship. In the process of information exchange, there is an emotional factor involved as well. Therefore, factors such medium of communication, tone, availability, and active listening become essential to executing proper contact while balancing the complex interpersonal dynamics of a group setting.
Managers and leaders must consider this knowledge to their advantage in the process of teamwork on a project. “The universal need for leaders to develop strong, transparent, motivating communications is so prevalent…it remains an issue with expensive ramifications in employee turnover, morale, and corporate potential” (Hedges 2014, para. 1). By establishing one’s role a communicator, a person can guide the group through all stages of a work project from planning to execution and ending with evaluation. However, that does imply a level of accountability since communicators are responsible for an accurate and timely relay of information throughout the teamwork process.
A position of a facilitator is closely intertwined with leadership. This person efficiently manages the team and is responsible for executing the task before them. “The facilitator exerts expert influence (and often positional influence) to direct the team” (Carver n.d., para. 16). There is a myriad of challenges and team-based dysfunctions which a facilitator must address, including any personal lack of leadership ability. Although rank may play a role, in most teamwork activities, it is necessary to support group engagement and focus. There should be an inherent ability to delegate, analyse, and support the team members. In my experience, I learned that a facilitator maintains a critical role of coordinating team resources to achieve a common goal.
Also, a facilitator maintains the role of providing accurate information to the team using competent communication. It ensures an organised team effort and allows to form strategies for problem-solving. It has been shown in studies simulating decision-making that “the ways in which facilitators convey information have the potential to shape the simulation activities and thereby serve different learning goals” (Escher et al. 2017, p. 1). This has implications for training and education which is undertaken in this module. Knowing the importance of a facilitator in teamwork, I can use the values and skills required to undertake this critical role.
The aspect of leadership can be effectively merged with the other skills in order to unify team members. “When people and their different points of view and experiences converge, they create the types of innovations that individuals could not have done or found alone” (Llopis 2014, para. 7). The accountability that comes with the roles of a facilitator and communication places a person in a position to foster commitment of colleagues towards a collaborative effort. Innovation and success arrive when a group can overcome significant challenges of balancing personalities, professional qualities, and communication issues to create a network of ideas which has multiple sources and perspectives.
Alton, L 2016, How successful leaders communicate with their teams, Web.
Beier, Y 2016, ‘If you want your team to collaborate, self-awareness is a game changer’, Forbes, Web.
Carver, M n.d., Strategies for better facilitation and team problem solving, Web.
Chamorro-Premuzic, T & Sanger, M 2017, ‘How to boost your (and others’) emotional intelligence’, Harvard Business Review, Web.
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Ceschi, A, Dorofeeva, K & Sartori, R 2014, ‘Studying teamwork and team climate by using a business simulation: how communication and innovation can improve group learning and decision-making performance’, European Journal of Training and Development, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 211-230, Web.
Escher, C, Rystedt, H, Creutzfeldt, J, Meurling, L, Nystrom, S, Dahlberg, J, Edelbring, S, Amoroe, T, Hult, H, Fellander-Tsai, L & Abrandt-Dahlgren, M 2017, ‘Method matters: impact of in-scenario instruction on simulation-based teamwork training’, Advances in Simulation, vol. 2, no. 25, pp. 1-8, Web.
Haas, M & Mortensen, M 2016, ‘The secrets of great teamwork’, Harvard Business Review, Web.
Hedges, K 2014, Why leaders are poor communicators, Web.
Huppke, R 2015, ‘Self-awareness at work leads to greater efficiency, better teamwork’, Chicago Tribune, Web.
Llopis, G 2014, 5 ways leaders enable innovation in their teams, Web.