Teamwork. We’ve all been in teams throughout our lives whether it was in school to complete an assignment, a sports team, a team at work or even teams at home with family members or friends. I am probably not the first person to admit that I am not crazy about working in teams. I have had some bad experiences in the past working in teams which is probably the main reason for my sentiment. But, today I am writing because I have learned that I am not the only person who has had these negative experiences, and in fact going through these experiences is an essential part in the stages that a team will go through. Additionally, the personal skills we bring to the teams that we will participate in throughout our personal and professional lives are crucial parts to the success of those teams.
A lot of what I have learned about creating a successful team has come from two lectures, “Working in Teams” by Dr. Ken Haycock, and “The Monster Inside Library School: Student Teams” by Enid Irwin. These both provided great overviews about what teams are, why they are important, and tips on ways to have a successful team and I highly recommend these to everyone who will ever work in a team (you know you are going to!).
From Dr. Ken Haycock’s presentation, I learned that the key to a successful team is reliant on both our own personal contribution along with clearly defined goals, roles, ground rules along with clear communication, positive team behaviors and balanced participation from all team members. My favorite parts of this presentation were learning about the four stages of team development- Stage 1: Forming, Stage 2: Storming, Stage 3: Norming, Stage 4: Performing and acknowledging that conflict is a natural part of team development and that it is something that is to be expected but the key is for us to properly resolve these with the help of a team leader so the team doesn’t become stuck in the Storming stage. What I took from this lecture as a whole in relation to what skills are needed for one to succeed as an online student and as a member of team is really know what our own personal strengths are, what the strengths of our group members are, to have a competent team leader to move us along the four stages, and that ultimately the success or dysfunction of a group is up to us; if we bring positive individual energy to our team we are more likely to succeed. I think this same positive individual energy is needed to become a successful online student. Sure we are going to make mistakes, but if we keep up that positive energy up, we can learn from these mistakes to become better students and better team players.
In Enid Irwin’s presentation, she stresses the importance of attitude and planning for the success of teamwork. Again, I think this is similar to the positive individual energy that was discussed in Dr. Haycock’s lecture. My favorite line from this presentation was that our careers begin when we start our classes as MLIS students. The behaviors and energies we exhibit during our classes and while working in teams will probably not only determine how well we will do in our careers, but also how we will be remembered. The time we have now as students is an opportunity to practice the leadership and mentoring skills that we will be using constantly in our future careers. Being a successful online student and member of a group is dependent on the level of participation we are willing to bring, the positive attitude we exhibit, and the open and respectful communication we will have with others.