“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie
Do you remember flipping through your high school yearbook to the senior superlatives section? There you would find categories that listed predictions for certain students that earned the votes of their peers. Most likely to succeed. Best all-around. Class clown. Most athletic. And so forth.
Never do you see a section in any school or professional print predicting anyone to be anything negative. Less likely to succeed. Sucks at everything. Most likely to drop the ball. Most likely to be a bum. Could you imagine opening up something that is supposed to be so memorable and impactful only to find out that no one truly believed in who your are or were at the time? It’s discouraging just thinking about it. Let’s not.
Think about how these students and professionals are selected for categories predicting their future or recognizing where they are now. It’s their character. We look at it and nominate them for what we believe to be true based on what they have revealed to us in various situations. Our character is everything. Yours and mine alike!
Character building keeps your name in a positive light. I don’t have enough fingers on my hand to count the number of times I’ve heard someone say, “I don’t care what people think about me, they don’t pay my bills!” Correct! They don’t, but someday they might if you become an entrepreneur. The idea and thought process begins to change depending on what side of the fence you’re standing on at times.
The one thing that you will find to be the most challenging aspect of your professional life is working with others. People are unique. They are made different and prefer different styles of receiving and delivering in all areas of their life. As a first year teacher I was eager to meet my new team. I prayed and hoped that it would be solid like my team the previous school year. However, as preplanning began, I began to realize this, you can’t hold on to what’s been. People come with personalities. And like the people that house them…personalities come in ALL various shapes and sizes.
Beautifully and wonderfully made.
Personalities are the baggage that make us who we are. Our personalities is what causes others to either invite us into their space or leave us out. That doesn’t mean that we are bad people just because those around us choose to exclude us during their side conversations and lunch dates. It could mean that they just don’t understand us as individuals and would rather not take on the challenge of engaging us long enough to get to know us. They could very well be the individuals that avoid challenges.
Team? Can I just work alone?
Whether you prefer teamwork or not, there is one thing that is true in education. You are going to work with one so you might as well put a smile on your face and get busy working. A negative connotation is sometimes associated with group work because of past experiences. Let’s take a look at a few negative aspects of team projects.
- Someone gets the part that no one else wants to do.
- You end up doing the entire project yourself to save face.
- Procrastinators don’t work until the last minute.
- You have to deal with attitudes that you can’t control.
- Sometimes group member just aren’t dependable.
- You lack the knowledge of how to work effectively in groups.
These are just a few issues that you find in groups/teams that are left to themselves to get a task done. Let’s take a look at the benefits of working in teams.
- Teams make tasks easier to handle.
- They are a support system in which you have someone to share your experiences and ideas with.
- They level out the playing field because you have others to work with.
- They create balance when used effectively.
The key to having a strong team is learning differences, strengths and weaknesses, communicating, and working together. In order to be effective you have to recognize the personalities that you have been selected to work with and respect them for who and where they are and GET THE JOB DONE.
There’s no “I” in team but there is “We”
One thing is for sure and we’ve all heard this saying. There’s no I in team! Nope. But essentially there is a “we.” And our “We” is represented by what we bring to the table.
This teacher’s ensemble is always on point. She believes in looking the part. She is slayed honey and would take it no other way. She believes appearance and presentation is everything. She typically pays attention to detail and doesn’t want her name attached to any half-stepping productivity. Most times this teacher is business minded and her interactions will be as such. (There have been some cases where lesson plans and classroom delivery aren’t quite as detailed as her ensemble.)
The Girl Next Door
She seems to be carefree. She tends to greet you with a smile and compliment. Her response to a new assignment is typically, “Okay, I’ll take care of it.” Knowing deep inside she’s unaware of how to even begin the task at hand but she always comes through on top. She is good spirited and well rounded. She has a positive energy about herself. People feel comfortable around her but can at times be threatened by the aura she brings in a room. Her only focus is reaching goals and student achievement. She’s a team player but don’t get in her way.
She will keep you in a meeting longer than scheduled with her antics. She is always listening with a rebuttal ready for the masses. She is confident in who she is and what she knows. Fiesty in all her ways. Believe it or not, she’s a great mentor. She has knowledge and is always willing to share it with you. She will always leave you with a nugget that takes your teaching arsenal to another level. She is really willing to help and wants to see you grow. She’s direct so you better find tough skin if you don’t have any.
Oh Wendy. Be careful how new material is presented to this worry wart. She might get overwhelmed and isn’t afraid to show it. She’s prone to having a panic attack at least once a week. She’s a great teacher but she has not yet learned how to deal with the cares of life. She worries a lot and it shows in her attitude. She may be snappy and quick to speak but it’s nothing against you. She’s still trying to learn how to balance her fears with her belief in herself. Be sure to compliment her progressions with tasks involving her team and her class. Build her up, after all, it won’t cost you anything.
Newcomers beware! She has a distinct quality about her. She’s well versed. You’ll be eager to share with her your aspirations and goals. Do it at your own discretion. The first conversation will probably yield that she has a lot of wisdom from the years of investment but be careful with subsequent interactions. They could be filled with a greater revelation of negativity. Listening to her could leave you with doubt and frustrations. She doesn’t have an agenda to intentionally leave you tainted by her spill over. She’s honestly sharing with you in hopes that she provides you with the realities of teaching. You’ll often wonder, why is she still here? Truth is she’s human. She’s tired. She’s seen more administrators, been tossed to various grade levels, and has handled more curriculum changes than you can think of. She actually loves her job. It’s all she knows. She just needs to be refreshed and her fire rekindled.
Like the name she is serene. She is most likely the strength of the team. She is the motivator. She sees the practical but is very optimistic that things will get better. She spends her time motivating on the positive light. She speaks out when needed but it’s never to pick a fight or to challenge administration but she will stand up for her team. She is the praying force behind their sanity. She is a true servant leader that believes that she should smile inspite of. After all you never know who may need it.
Vision is everything.
Regardless of what types of persons you may find yourself working with, always remember that people perish when there is no clear vision communicated to those that are working to get a job done. It is important that we recognize our areas of strengths and weaknesses. Those are the things that make up who we are. In acknowledging our character traits it’s very important that we learn how to iron out who we are for the sake of the team.
Stop bragging about the fact that “This is just who I am,” and work towards building a brand that translates your character even when you aren’t around. Character is everything in education. One false accusation could lead to the demise of your new or very well established career.
No greater LOVE.
For the sake of the team, we must sometimes lay down our right to be right.
- We have to become less defensive. Stop taking everything personal.
- Build your self esteem so that everything that they say won’t affect you.
- Truly be quick to hear and slow to speak. Process what is being said before you jump into your feelings.
- Agree to disagree but don’t leave it at that. The team should always come up with a conclusion for whatever needs to be solved or completed.
- Remove yourself and come back with a clear head.
- Apologize and move on. (You have to work with your team for the duration of the school year.)
- Build trust by being there and bringing sound reasoning skills to the table.
- Confide in no one that doesn’t have you or your team’s best interest at heart. (The last thing you need is an instigator picking at a sore that is having a hard time healing.)
Working with people cannot be avoided. You don’t have to like them. You’re not there to like anyone to be exact. You’re there to get a job done and if you just so happen to make a few friendships that merge into your personal life, KUDOS to you! I have definitely made friends with coworkers outside of the intention of doing so. It’s just something about bubbly personalities and supportive hearts.
My Challenge to you
Now that we know a few of the personalities that walk the halls of your place of work let’s sit down and reflect on the relationships around you. Think about some people that you feel like you could absolutely do without. Think about what you could do differently to better communicate and support those individuals. Have you done everything that you possibly could to change the relationship? If you have, good for you and move on! If you haven’t, come up with some alternative solutions for ways to interact with them differently. Could there be a part of you that is being stubborn to the situations around you? No one can answer this but you so take your time.
See you in the next post? Same time right?