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.
Dirks, J. L. (2019). Effective strategies for teaching teamwork. Critical Care Nurse, 39(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 Psychology, 97(4), 890–900. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027377
Stutzer, K. (2019). Generational differences and multigenerational teamwork. Critical Care Nurse, 39(1), 78–81. https://doi.org/10.4037/ccn2019163
West, M. A. (2012). Effective teamwork practical lessons from organizational research. Wiley & Sons Incorporated.