Professor Emeritus Madeleine Hardin Reflects on the Evolution of the Communications Department at UFV

Guest Blog by Alison Evans

Madeleine Hardin has been an associate professor with UFV Communications since 1989. During her time at UFV she has seen the school evolve from a college, to a university college, to a full university, from two small buildings in Abbotsford and Chilliwack to the expanded campuses that exist today. Madeleine’s work in media and advocacy helped shape the growth of the UFV Communications Department from a supplemental department assisting other disciplines with their curriculum, into a department on the edge of providing a four-year degree program.

As part of developing the oral history of the Communications Department, Madeleine spoke about her experiences over 30 years with UFV Communications.

Thirty Years at UFV

Prior to working at UFV Madeleine completed her Master of Arts in Communication at SFU. She then worked in television broadcasting for ten years as a researcher/writer with CBC TV News. While an exciting and fun career, she started to look for other careers that would allow her to spend more time with her young family. She was offered a job at Kwantlen College and UFV at the same time. She chose UFV because she “liked the people better. It’s really that simple,” she says. At the time the Communications Department was a small group of committed people working to establish the department, who Madeleine says are still some of her closest friends. Some of the earliest department members included Ken Fernstrom, Cheryl Dahl, and Wendy Burton.

Once at UFV, Madeleine used her experience from the newsroom and advocacy work to help the Communications Department evolve from being focussed solely on first year writing classes to include classes about media and journalism. Her experience in using her writing skills in a variety of mediums in television and media provided UFV Communications with a valuable resource for helping to expand their course programming from technical writing skills to include classes about advocacy writing, fundraising, public relations, and crises communication. Her department head at the time, Cheryl Dahl, established the Media and Communications (MACS) courses and department. Madeleine taught in both departments as a cross appointment for many years.  Her experience in using her writing skills in a variety of mediums in television and media provided UFV Communications and MACS with a valuable resource.

Beyond the physical changes of an expanding campus as the school grew, she tells us the student population has changed as well. During Madeleine’s time with UFV, she has seen the school change from a “small friendly college”, with students mostly local to the Lower Mainland, to a bustling student population of over 15,000, including international students from all over the world. With all of these changes, the Communications Department has stayed current by constantly adapting to provide the students with relevant skills, something Madeleine promoted in the Communications Department during her time as Department Head.

Communications Department Development

Just as the physical campus and the student body experienced growth and change, so has the Communications Department. Madeleine tells us that her work overseas, especially in China and India, helped advance her knowledge about what other countries were doing with communications, and she brought that knowledge home to UFV. This acquired knowledge transferred directly into the development of courses focussed on Intercultural Communications, Public Speaking and Writing for Business classes being provided by the Communications Department.

Madeleine was also instrumental in the development of two courses focused on Public Relations, Comms 212 and 312. These innovative courses were then adopted at SFU through Madeleine’s connections to her alma mater, and eventually they formed the foundation of the Public Relations Certificate Program here at UFV.

While the Communications Department Head, Madeleine was instrumental in getting the department a minor and certificate programs. Previously, the department was fulfilling a service to other departments by providing courses the students would use to advance their work in other studies. Madeleine and her colleagues pushed for a minor program at a time when the school was transitioning from a college to a full university, which helped to advance the program even further. The department had to “start taking themselves more seriously” she says, as the department followed the trend of hiring instructors with doctorates as well as master’s degrees.

The Future of Communications at UFV

To Madeleine, communications is so much more than technical writing and public speaking. She believes that communication “touches everything.” She says, “There are no jobs without a communications component.” She explained that communication jobs that did not even exist in the past are now required and abundant in all types of workplaces. She noted that especially during and post-Covid, digital communication and Digital Communication Strategists are needed in every branch of government and business in order to communicate with people when they could not be face-to-face and when they need to reach a broad spectrum of stakeholders and the public.

Communicating digitally is both “dangerous and useful,” says Madeleine. She says more regulation for preventing the spread of false and misinformation is needed, but also there needs to be emphasis on teaching students ethical communication practices. While unethical communication is hard to prevent, Madeleine says, “You can train people to recognize misinformation,” and teach them critical thinking about the information being communicated over all media channels. As digital communication moves forward, she feels this is something the Communications Department will need to examine.

She believes the UFV Communications Department is in great hands to face these challenges, and to keep moving forwards as communication continues to develop. “The department has always been full of good people. People who really believed in what they were doing and why they were doing it; all were good writers, good communicators,” she says. “The department is in incredibly good hands, and I have been very proud watching them grow and change.

Madeleine continues to be involved with UFV Communications Department, and will be teaching CMNS 125: Professional Communications, this fall at UFV.

What’s all the buzz about? Lana Harach Wins Award for Research on B.C.’s Asian Giant Hornets

Lana Harach, an Agricultural Science student at UFV, is the Undergraduate Research Excellence (URE) Award winner for a journal article she wrote in CMNS 325: Writing for the Sciences and Technologies. Lana’s work explores the emergence of the invasive Vespa mandarinia species (Asian giant hornets) on the West Coast of British Columbia.

“I took CMNS 325 as I wanted to become more skilled at sharing the information I have learned,” says Lana. “My favourite part of the course was learning how to build scientific articles based on how people read and make connections between sentences within a paragraph.”

Below, Lana discusses her research article, “Mitigating Dangers of Vespa mandarinia (Asian Giant Hornet),” where she used secondary literature to underscore the threat this invasive species poses to the agricultural economy of the Fraser Valley.

Why did you choose to study Asian giant hornets? What did you learn in the process?

LH: My interest in Asian giant hornets started the year before I took CMNS 325 because one of the hornet nests found was close to my hometown. When brainstorming ideas for my focus in CMNS 325 I realized that the topic of Asian giant hornets overlaps with another one of my passions: ‘integrated pest management’. As pest management is a field that I am interested in pursuing as a career it seemed like a fun topic that I not only had an emotional connection to but one that could help me in a future career! Throughout the process of writing this paper I learned how important making short-term and long-term deadlines are, and how these can help me avoid procrastination. It also helped me see the value in coming back to a writing project with fresh eyes days later – teaching me that while having someone else read over your paper is valuable, there is a lot I can accomplish before that if I give myself the time to do so.

The topic of Asian giant hornets is a very popular one, with many articles published about it. It was interesting to wade through these and I feel gave me a better understanding of the whole picture. It taught me that it’s important to remain connected to the readers, to understand where their fears or misunderstandings are coming from so that I can better explain the science behind it.

Why should people in B.C. to be aware of the V. mandarinia? What steps can people take to protect themselves?

LH: It is critical for people in B.C. to be aware of Asian giant hornets because they would pose a high threat to our ecological systems if they became an established invasive pest. Asian giant hornets are ferocious predators in the insect world and their main target is bee populations. Our North American bee populations have not evolved defence mechanisms against Asian giant hornets, and because of this would be greatly impacted (and killed).

Another reason for people in B.C. to be aware of Asian giant hornets is to protect themselves. Protecting oneself starts as simply as observing your surroundings, especially when you are walking in forests (their preferred habitat). These hornets don’t tend to sting humans unless provoked so give them plenty of space and room. Asian giant hornets also get excited by bright colours like yellow and orange (the colour of their main prey), so wearing duller, more earthy colours would reduce the chance of catching their attention. If you do see an Asian giant hornet report it to the Invasive Species Council of BC (by phone, app or website).

Thanks for sharing your insights on the Asian giant hornets. Congratulations on winning the URE Award! What did you think about being nominated, and then winning the award?

LH: I was surprised and excited to be nominated. I tend to rely more on my speaking communication skills, so having my written communication skills acknowledged has opened some career doors for me in my mind. When I received the email telling me I had won the award I was so honoured! I think the most overwhelming moment for me was thinking about the number of individuals who decided that this paper not only worth their time to read through but to recognize officially as well is very humbling. 

Speaking of Success: Balneet Toor wins the Toastmasters’ Award

Let’s toast Balneet Toor, the recipient of the Rise and Shine Toastmasters’ Annual Achievement Award, for her outstanding work in CMNS 235: Public Speaking. Balneet recently graduated from UFV with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, as well as the Professional Communication Essentials certificate.

“I was very surprised and thankful when I found out about the nomination,” says Balneet. “It felt nice to know that my peers and professor enjoyed listening to my speeches and they have faith in my skills. Winning the award was the best feeling ever. I felt very proud of myself, and this was a fantastic way to end my last semester at UFV.”

Why did you take the class and what was your experience like?

BT: I took this class to challenge myself and to improve my public speaking skills. Another motivating factor was that I would qualify for a communications certificate since I had already completed the other two communications courses. It was a hard decision for me because I get very nervous while speaking in front of a large group. However, I am so glad that I pushed myself to take the course because it was a life changing experience for me. I was able to overcome my fear of public speaking and regain lost confidence. Samantha made this course enjoyable and valuable. It was a great decision to take this class.

What was your favourite part of the class? 

BT: My favorite part of the class was the impromptu speaking and having a theme for each class. This is something I looked forward to each week as the themes were very interesting and our class discussions were also very effective and valuable. I loved listening to my peers, hearing about their experiences and relating them to my life and also learning new things from them. This was a great way to get to know one another. It helped the class understand each other better and increase our comfort level.

What was it like taking a public speaking class on Zoom? 

BT: It was a very unique experience taking a public speaking class on Zoom. Honestly it went so much better than I had expected. Samantha made the course very easy to follow along and she encouraged us to use this opportunity to learn different techniques on how to present online. Since I am a business student, I feel this was a very valuable experience because I will be presenting online at some point in my career. Especially with the world changing due to the pandemic and most people working from home. I’m glad I was able to make progress with each speech and change the technique that I was using to present. For example, in my first speech I was sitting down and presenting. By the end of the course, I presented while standing in front of the camera.

Do you have any tips for future public speaking students? 

BT: Some tips that I have for future public speaking students is to take risks, chances and have faith in yourself. You are your biggest motivator. It’s important to brainstorm and practice your speech beforehand to ensure that your speech will be effective. Lastly, don’t forget to have fun! This course is full of enjoyable activities and amazing opportunities.­­

Balneet’s award-winning acceptance speech is below. “I prepared for my final speech by creating a speech plan and noting down everything that I would like to include,” said Balneet. “From there onwards I just spoke from the heart. I was so thankful and happy that I was given this opportunity.”

Adapt and Overcome! Managing practicum placements during a public health emergency

We caught up with Elise Goertz, the Practicum and Internship Coordinator for the College of Arts. The last year and a bit has been disruptive for everyone, but when your job involves matching students with employers for workplace experience, the pandemic presented a unique set of issues.

What was the greatest challenge for employers and the practicum students due to the public health emergency over the past year?

The biggest challenge for both students and employers has been adapting to the new virtual environment. Most businesses we work with have been unable to host students in a physical location. Switching over to a completely virtual work environment was a learning curve for both employers and students, but all were able to adapt quickly.

I think that students had to learn to work more independently, ask more questions, use better time management skills, and become comfortable engaging in online meetings and using email communication. These are all skills they will continue to use in the future.

Do you think working remotely will play a bigger role in practicum placements in the future?

I think that remote work environments are here to stay and virtual practicums will continue to be available to UFV students. Many employers see the benefits of virtual work agreements for employees, interns and practicum students alike. Some of these benefits include flexible scheduling, low cost office space, fewer sick days, increased employee/intern satisfaction, increased productivity and more. In terms of practicum and internship placements, virtual placement agreements allow students to work from the comfort of their own home when their schedule allows. Students find this flexibility appealing.

What encouragement would you offer a student hesitating about taking on a practicum for the fall semester?

While taking on a practicum is a commitment, most students do not realized that a 80 hour practicum consists of just 8-10 practicum hours per week over the semester. Because of this, it’s easy for students to take other courses at the same time as their practicum.

If a student is unsure if they have the professional skills needed for a practicum, they will be happy to learn that the new practicum course (Practicum 1 & 2) involves a professional competency component. Students will first learn the skills needed to be successful in a workplace environment. Another thing to note is that all of our practicum placements are done individually. I make sure we make the right match and find a placement that aligns with the skills and interests of the student. If students have questions about this they can talk to me!

From your experience what is the most common benefit students report from their practicum experiences?

Practicum placements provide students with a great network that they can tap into when starting a career. Networking is such a huge part of a practicum placement. Many students come away with recommendation letters and references that they can use when applying for future roles.

Another practicum benefit is the fact that the experience allows students to develop their professional skills so that they are ready to launch into a career. Students learn that many of the skills that they have learned in the classroom are transferable to the workplace. After working in these types of positions, students become more confident, and develop a growth mindset. This experience also gives students the opportunity to explore ways they can contribute to our complex and ever-changing society and economy even before they have finished their education.

A practicum placement is a great way to earn credits towards your degree and diploma and at the same time get valuable workplace experience that can facilitate your transition from UFV to your career of choice. You can find out more about the UFV practicum courses (Arts 280 / Arts 380) here.

Things we forget to remember: 10 Memes for workplace writing

Having just completed teaching our Professional Report Writing course, CMNS 251, I am reminded once again of ten common business writing practices that many of the learners in the course need to have reinforced several times throughout a semester before they seem to stick. These ten are not the entire list but let’s not get too heavy here, right?

Why are these things so difficult to remember? My guess is that it come from three understandable places – thus why we teach such a class:

  • In our very first experiences with writing we learn to give lots of space between letters and sentences so that our rough attempts can more easily be read and corrected;
  • The academic practice of double-spacing is also meant for “corrections” and publisher notes
  • Workplace (aka business/technical) writing is about speed. No time to waste trying to figure out the “bottom line” as they say. A new concept for our post-secondary level writers.

Given the need for speed in the business world, the message has to be succinct, accurate for the audience, with high readability (ease of understanding the main message), and ultimately bring a positive result. With these principles in mind, these ten memes just might help us remember.

#1: Single (not double) spacing is the default

single spacing and left alignment are the defaults for business writing

OK, no problem, but of course this does not stand alone. Single-spacing will take up less pages but it also has to come with shorter paragraphs to create what is called white space. White space (the parts of the page that do not contain text, make the text easier to read). Thanks to the computer age, single spacing also comes hand-in-hand with the use of left-alignment and no paragraph indent (replaced by a single line space to designate a new paragraph (ah more white space).

This leads us to #2: Succinct Section Headings

Remember speed as a principle? The reader needs to be able to “glance” through a memo, letter, or document and pick out important information. No time for flowery prose here – make headings obvious with very few words that say exactly the focus of a particular section. Bold is best. Making the heading stand out is good but don’t overdo it. Just use bold, not italic or underline and for goodness sake don’t use a combination (horrors).

Of course headings only really make sense if they are configured in line with #3 Follow a Logical Path. Make sure that one section leads to the next. It is fairly common for inexperienced writers to just put their thoughts down as they are thinking without ever trying to organize them ahead of time.

Maybe a meme about making an outline first would be handy. OK – next time. Organizing my thoughts was something I certainly had to be reminded to do even in graduate school and I continue to remind myself regularly when I write. That being said, even the most logical route will not be enough if we don’t give clear directions to the reader on what to expect next on the pathway.

#4 Use Transitions as road signs. Almost every time I ask a class what they need for a good road trip, they say “snacks.” It takes us a while to get to “navigation tools” like maps and road signage. Those are just things we expect to be there but NO, somebody had to design them at some time and they did it for good reason.

It is pretty easy to find resources on line that offer hundreds of suggestions for writing a variety of types of transitions. These remind the reader where they have been, where they are headed next, how far they still need to go, and where they will end up.

# 5 Use Plain Language unless your audience is well-versed in a particular workplace jargon (specialized technical language). Using plain language is a not about dumbing down information, it is about making sure the message is clear for a broad audience. Along with the inherently multi-lingual nature of North America, Canada is fortunate in having a culturally diverse settler/immigrant and refugee population that offer a rich global experience and bring hundreds of languages into daily life. For many people English may be not only a second language but probably a fourth or fifth language at the least. Using plain language helps everyone have a better communication experience whether in speaking or writing.

#6 Use Past Tense in most cases when writing reports.

Why? because by the time your audience is reading the report is finished, therefore in the past. The most common bad (but natural) habit is to use a progressing/continuous future tense (i.e. you will read about an analysis of…). Present tense is also common (I am writing about…). Past tense is more accurate “For this report I analyzed..”

#7 Know your audience and your purpose.

This one really should be #1 but hey, we usually get there without as much trouble as 1-6 above. Those seem so simple but turn out not to be.

Identifying your audience takes time and thought. Audience demographics (location, age, gender, cultural background) are a great place to start but do not stop there. Ask yourself some more questions: Who cares? How do they want to get the information? What will they expect to from a particular time of document or mode of message transmission?

Know your purpose before designing your message.Why do you think this message is important to get out? What is it about this information that would get the attention of the audience you have identified? What do you want the audience to do in response to what you are writing?

Match your answers to these types of questions with the audience you have identified to double-check that you have a clear picture of what your message will be. Develop a short statement about your purpose to include in the introduction. This will help the reader but it will also have the bonus effect of keeping you on track.

#8 Know and honour the difference between a fact, an opinion, and your bias. Reports are no place for opinion. Even your conclusions should be based in the facts you present. Provide a source for everything you present as a “claim of fact;” and do your best to ensure that you acknowledge and account for bias (something we all have but often need to be more aware of).

I know that citing facts are the bane of all student existence but I promise that after a while it is the funnest part (my opinion lol). In the Communications department we most often use APA citation style because that is what academic journals in our discipline most often require. Plus the APA Style Blog is always a handy resource for all the cases that occur from rapid changes in digital information sources. In business writing it is more common to see something like Chicago (note and bibliography style) which demonstrates conventions similar to those used for Wikipedia style. It is more digital friendly for social media as well.

#9  Reports do not use salutary openings and complimentary closes. This one seems a bit picky but it will help you to identify the type of document that is best for your purpose. Is your audience just one individual? or written in a personal tone? You probably want to use a letter format (seems old-fashioned these days but still relevant in many circumstances). If so, please DO use salutary openings and complimentary closes.

Otherwise, remember that in professional/business/technical writing, speed it the thing. Greetings and closings slow both you and the reader down.

Tip #10 seems so, so obvious but one more time won’t hurt – PROOF READ before you send. If you have the time and resources, have someone else also proof your writing as a set of fresh eyes. Another trick is to have your device read out what you have written. This is a great way to listen for moments when you think “that doesn’t make sense” or “wow, where did that come from.”

Thank you for your time and now I need to go back and proofread one more time. Please let me know if I missed anything 🙂 Happy report writing to all.

A special Thank You to “Boo” the grizzly who lives and works at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in the Dogtooth Range of the Purcell Mountains, Columbia Valley, Golden, British Columbia.

Also to Terry Curts for the meme ideas and image search

Communications Speaker Spotlight

Head to the Communications Speaker Spotlight on March 31 at noon to hear industry experts from Jelly Marketing and the Fraser Valley Regional District talk about the role of communication in the workplace. Former students Lise Nehring and Maaria Zafar join current students Addy Schnider and Perry Mills to discuss the skills they learned in the Communications minor program. Attendees have the chance to win one of two $50 gift cards.

Scan the QR code or click the link to sign up at Eventbrite.

SPEAKERS:

Angelique Crowther is Manager of Communications at the Fraser Valley Regional District, a local government serves residents in the Fraser Valley. Angelique is an experienced communications professional working primarily for the public sector, Angelique has served at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver School Board and abroad with the Cayman Islands Government. Angelique is particularly experienced and interested in public engagement and emergency management.

Sarah Clark is a Partner and Director of Operations and Personnel at Jelly Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency located in Fort Langley. With a background in event management and marketing from UFV and Mount Royal University, Sarah uses her experiences from the last decade to ensure that Jelly performs at its best each and every day.

Lise Nehring is on her journey towards her Masters in Biology. She sees the crucial role of communication in translating scientific knowledge to everyday settings for maximum results.

Maaria Zafar is a criminal justice student but also one of our active communication minor students. Maaria has taken note of how communication has benefited her academically and professionally and is here to share with us her notes.

Addy Schneider is the President of UFV Enactus Club, a communication minor student who is currently taking some of our upper-level communication courses. She believes having effective communication skills allows better information sharing and network building.

Perry Mills is working toward his Bachelor of Arts degree with a minor in Spanish, business, and communications. He says that communication is integral to all aspects of life, from relationships to work, and everything in between. He hopes that others might also find a passion in learning how to express their thoughts and knowledge.

 

It is not just a Chinese new year: Celebrating the Lunar New Year

Take a trip with us to China, Korea, Tibet, Mongolia, and Vietnam

A Virtual Tour – click here

and follow the links to learn about the traditions, foods, activities, songs, and scenes from the five countries where the lunar new year is a national holiday.

This tour is just a little taste so you encouraged to trek out on your own across the world wide web to find out even more about the similarities and the differences of these New Year celebrations. You just might never refer to it as Chinese New Year ever again – but you can; no judgement here 🙂

Photo: La Fairy Sail: http://www.lafairy-sails.com/en/blog/all-about-traditions-of-tet-the-vietnamese-lunar-new-year.htm

Want to put your own lunar new year celebration together but have no idea what food to buy? Problem solved.

A Tour of Lower Mainland Asian grocery stores for your pleasure:

Let’s start with Surrey. The T&T Supermarket – For many general Asian grocery items. Their baked goods and cooked meals are excellent.

Photo: Google Map

 

 

 

For more specialized Korean ingredients it’s H-Mart at 19555 Fraser Hwy, Surrey.

 

Photo: H-mart website

Want to take a trip into the big city for some specialized Vietnamese ingredients? Let’s drive on over to the 88 Supermarket at 4801 Victoria Drive, Vancouver.

Photo: Google Map

 

 

 

Need some Vietnamese groceries in the Fraser Valley? Here we are in Langley and Abbotsford.

Photo: Google Map

The Saigon City Market is at 20178 56 Ave. Langley City and for more specialized Vietnamese ingredients, Vihn-Tan Oriental Groceries is at 2681 Cedar Park Place, Abbotsford. They have barbeque pork and roasted ducks on Wednesdays and Saturdays and they are yum (we can attest to that),

 

 

– your tour guides Marcella and Mai Anh

Photo: Google Map

$500 survey draw winner: Communication skills used in “almost every aspect of life”

Congratulations to University of the Fraser Valley student Garrett Johnson, a 2020 Bachelor of Arts graduate  for having his name drawn from a pool of over 1100 alumni and current students who responded to the recent Communications Department survey. The survey gathered information to contribute to developing a Communications Major within the Bachelor of Arts.

We extend a huge THANK YOU to everyone who responded to the survey!!!

Garrett says he put his knowledge from his Communications 125 course to work immediately in applying to Simon Fraser University and has been accepted to a Masters program  – something we are always happy to hear.

We also liked hearing his answers to our questions below because we know that our students at UFV have an amazing array of plans for the future and reasons why they decide that university is great path to meet their goals. Here are some of the things he had to say:

What are some favourite memories about any of the courses you took?
I took that specific course while studying remotely from Toronto. I found myself really enjoying the course material as I took three online courses. Being able to communicate to both professors and fellow students in a concise and professional manner is key when using technology to communicate. Being able to directly implement the ideas and concepts directly into my other courses was very gratifying!

In what ways have you been able to use any of the communications skills?
I have used the communication skills learned from the course in almost every aspect of my life. I have applied the skills in my various volunteer positions that I hold where I am required to regularly communicate in a professional manner. I have also made use of the skills in applying for Grad school, and to which I owe some credit in regards to my acceptance.

What are your future plans?
Besides preparing for Grad school, I am a freelance translator, translating between English and French. I am very interested in researching, analyzing, and promoting Franco-Columbian literature and authors. I would like to continue my work translating, as well as pursue my scholarly interests into what I hope will one day transition into a career opportunity.

What else would you like to say about yourself?
I am thankful for the variety of courses that UFV offers, despite possibly not having a complete program in [Communications]. I would love to go back and follow more CMNS courses now that I know the benefit from them.

Congratulations again Garrett and best wishes for all your future successes.

Teamwork: Everybody Do your Share! 

A group of friends at a coffee shop

Guest blog by Sophie Weymann 

During the winter semester, as part of my Communications 125 class, we were asked to look into a topic that university students should know more about regarding the future of the workplace. Intrigued by the successes and failures of teamwork I had done in the past, it seemed like a great subject to look into. Even as our world has transitioned to a more digital environment, understanding how to do teamwork effectively has stayed as important as ever!

Recently, I have spent a lot of time debating whether I prefer working in a team or by myself. On one hand, I have been a part of teams where it ends up as if it were just me doing all the work but having to share all the glory. On the other hand, I have been a part of some pretty incredible teamwork that resulted in a finished product that I could have never achieved on my own.  

So, now I am left wondering how my personal experiences with teamwork so far will translate to a future workplace. Now comes the time to play psychic. Where is teamwork finding its place in the future of the workplace? Have too many of us been swayed towards eliminating it entirely as a result of the all-too-familiar one-person “team” in which we play the leading role but with the praise of a supporting member? Or does the pride of a team project done right still linger, making us believe that teamwork does actually makes the dream work?  

How Teamwork Can be Ineffective  

Those of us with teamwork experience can likely agree that when working in teams, we can encounter some major hiccups. So first, we must define what these issues are and what’s causing them. The issues within teams are often social (Farh, Seo & Tuslek, 2012; Stutzer, 2019; West, 2012). Some of the causes of these social issues have been attributed to multigenerational issues (West, 2012), low-emotional intelligence (Stutzer, 2019) and not clearly defining each members’ tasks (West, 2012). Stutzer has stated that multigenerational teams can result in stereotyping among members. According to Farh et al., members with low emotional intelligence are unable to read social cues to avoid conflict. Finally, when a member’s task is hard to define, West has said that they end up doing nothing and relying on the other members’ work.  

 All these issues in workplace teams create conflict. This is when teams start to become ineffective and just plain frustrating 

So, How Can We Build an Effective Team?  

One solution to consider is team building exercises. Whether they are done inside or outside of the workplace, team building fosters cohesion within the team (Stutzer, 2019). Team building is all about creating healthy working relationships to solve or avoid issues amongst members (Dirks, 2019). So, meet with your team regularly and just get to know each other! Creating relationships with each other not only helps avoid social conflict but also encourages personal investment in the success of the team amongst members.  

To Teamwork or not to Teamwork?  

Experts agree that in many job sectors, teamwork is in fact crucial. For example, in the nursing sector, if the nurses aren’t all working together, they will not be able to create and execute a treatment plan for a patient (Dirks, 2019). So, no matter how messy teamwork can get, a great product often stems from people working together. With this being said, teamwork will likely continue to hold a prominent and productive place in the workplace of the future.  

References 

Dirks, J. L. (2019). Effective strategies for teaching teamwork. Critical Care Nurse39(4), 40– 47. https://doi.org/10.4037/ccn2019704  

Farh, C. I. C. C., Seo, M.-G., & Tesluk, P. E. (2012). Emotional intelligence, teamwork effectiveness, and job performance: The moderating role of job context. Journal of Applied Psychology97(4), 890–900. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027377  

Stutzer, K. (2019). Generational differences and multigenerational teamwork. Critical Care Nurse39(1), 78–81. https://doi.org/10.4037/ccn2019163 

West, M. A. (2012). Effective teamwork practical lessons from organizational research. Wiley & Sons Incorporated.   

Social Categorization and COVID_19

covering up anti Asian graffiti in Vancouver image from CBC News

Last week in CMNS 180 (Introduction to Intercultural Communication), for an assignment related to our unit on Culture, Communication and Social Categorization, I asked the class to:

  • Find a current news article or broadcast  about Canada’s experience with Covid_19 that demonstrates some element of  ingroup/outgroup; othering; or social categorization
  • Provide a link to the item
  • Provide your take on how the situation in the news relates to this topic

After reading all the responses, very pleased with how the took on the assignment, I sent them this email and I thought other people might like to see the list too.

Dear Class: “I thought you might like to see the broad range of topics and articles that were submitted to me for the Canada Now – Covid_19 assignment.

This is just the links with none of the related comments which I found really fascinating with some things that I hadn’t thought of and with so much direct relationship to communication. Some of this variety included things like ageism, finances, border crossing, conspiracy theories, racism and racist graffiti, Indigenous communities, partisan politics, and many more – have a look.

The down side? our society has a lot of work to do to be better.” Regards, M

Here is the list of links:

https://globalnews.ca/news/6929793/coronavirus-disability-touch-deprivation/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8X7G_oLnlE

https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/03/1060602

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/covid-19-public-health-order-warnings-1.5575468

https://globalnews.ca/news/6923971/coronavirus-canada-indigenous-concerns/

https://globalnews.ca/news/6963307/bc-coronavirus-covid-19-fees-business/

https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/canadas-early-covid-19-cases-came-from-the-u-s-not-china-provincial-data-shows

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/as-covid-19-spreads-so-do-negative-stereotypes-of-the-young-and-the-old/

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-ontario-quebec-covid-19-1.5524056

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-lets-not-kick-the-homeless-back-to-the-curb-when-the-coronavirus/

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/opinion-partisanship-covid-19-government-response-1.5525186

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/covid19-racial-disparities

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/stefanovich-miller-indigenous-funding-update-covid19-1.5505025

https://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/3079698/vancouver-protesters-call-coronavirus-fake-news-and

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/chinese-canadians-denounce-rising-xenophobia-tied-coronavirus-200202191216923.html

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-canada-should-take-its-cues-from-countries-where-the-virus-is-under/?utm_source=Shared+Article+Sent+to+User&utm_medium=E-mail:+Newsletters+/+E-Blasts+/+etc.&utm_campaign=Shared+Web+Article+Links

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vandals-chinatown-gate-1.5578200

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iz__Z6_KIyw

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/anti-racism-campaign-manitoba-covid-19-1.5565833

https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/05/13/covid-19-fueling-anti-asian-racism-and-xenophobia-worldwide

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/covid-19-has-put-a-harsh-spotlight-on-the-anti-asian-racism-that-has-always-existed-in-canada-1.5572674

https://www.cbc.ca/news/editorsblog/editors-blog-fact-checking-coronavirus-misinformation-1.5583631

https://luminosante.sunlife.ca/s/article/Taking-care-of-the-elderly-during-COVID-19?language=en_US