You know that the success of a group or group depends on each member’s efforts. You probably have many stories to support this observation.
Although there are some positive and some negative traits that can be easily identified, people who are new to groupwork or who want to improve their contributions may be looking for guidance on how to change individual attitudes and behaviors to increase team performance and camaraderie.
In Industrial/Organizational Psychology: An Applied Approach, Seventh Edition, Michael G. Aamodt offers students a series of principles that can help them become positive, proactive members of a group or team. These principles will be beneficial to students in their group assignments as well as in their personal and professional lives. Below is a summary of them:
Before you start your project, make sure everyone on the team understands the scope of the assignment. Also, make sure you are clear about the expected work product or outcome. It’s better to ask questions at the beginning of the project than to find out that you didn’t understand the directions or missed a step.
Know your role in the team. Double-check with the team if you aren’t sure if a task falls within your scope. Otherwise, you run the risk that you will be stepping on someone’s “turf.”
Participate fully and actively in meetings and discussions. Be open to new ideas and be available to support and encourage your colleagues. However, don’t monopolize discussions, give yourself a pat on the back, or insist on your way.
Respect your team members and speak with them. Do not share gossip with your teammates or engage in long-winded grumbling about them. Instead, encourage the upset member of your group to talk with the other person directly. You will build trustworthiness and discretion by speaking up and acting with discretion.
Although you don’t want gossip, it is sometimes necessary for someone to share their problems or concerns with another person. You should be open to listening to other team members who need to vent. Need some tips to be a good listener? These basic tips can also be applied to one-on-one conversations.
However, team-meetings should not be used as a time to discuss personal issues or woes that aren’t related to the project. These little tidbits could be passed on to others or used against you. You run the risk of irritating team members, who may not be interested in your personal problems.
Don’t let your negative emotions affect your teammates. Instead, try to focus on the positive and seek out encouragement from others, whether it’s a trusted teammate or a friend outside of the situation.
Do not allow conflict to fester. Instead, deal with it calmly and rationally as soon as you can. Be ready to find a solution that benefits all parties. If necessary, you can call in an outside party (such your supervisor or instructor) to help you resolve the problem.
If you can, offer to help organize or prepare for team events. You will not only be recognized as a “team player”, but you will also get to know other people better than just co-workers or classmates.
Last but not least, be ready to lead when necessary. Even if you don’t consider yourself a leader, you might find yourself in a situation where you need to assume that role. You might have the knowledge and experience to provide direction for the group. You might also decide to lead if you see a leadership gap. You may decide to expand your leadership responsibilities in other situations. No matter what your situation, you can still be a leader and do your job diligently. You can start to improve your team-building skills today if you aren’t confident in your abilities. You can read books, talk to mentors, or take a course or seminar… there are many ways to gain insight! (493)
Reference: Aamodt, Michael G. 2013. Industrial/Organizational Psychology: An Applied Approach, Seventh Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.