Go Team!

I have worked on many teams, some that were successful and some that were not. I have been on work teams, class teams, voluntary teams, and a few others. Most of the jobs I have held have been in restaurants and we held team competitions, in which the production team competed with the service team for completion times. Often, t-shirts would be awarded at the end of the month that the winning team could wear in lieu of uniform shirts, which was always a fun thing to do. I have also participated in teams at work for such things as cross training, safety committees, and organizing the yearly picnic.

In the cross training teams, the stronger employees were trained in new positions and the more thorough and detailed the training, the more effectively their work would balance the responsibility and the stress more evenly throughout. For this reason, team leaders often worked together sharing tactics that were successful and ones that were not. In these teams it wasn’t about competition, but the overall achievement for both the trainers and the trainees. The safety committee that I headed was strictly voluntary and therefore it turned out to have a lot of turnover. I found I ended up doing most of the work myself and typed up notes that nobody really cared to read or follow through on. That was, to say the least, very frustrating. Once I implemented a few simple incentives, such as free lunch during the meetings, membership and attendance approved moderately.

I have participated in teams in high school, such as the yearbook committee, where each of us had a specific responsibility that needed to be completed, in which the end result was equally dependant on each of our roles. We worked together because the finished product was something exciting and something to be proud of, and being on this team was a great honor. However, being put into groups or teams in the college class room is not uncommon, and from my experience, the outcomes varied. Yes, I have been on teams with the social loafers, the know-it-alls, and the ones who think they know something, but based on the material at hand, don’t have a clue. I have volunteered to be the leader when no one else seems to want the responsibility, and because I am one to tackle the project at hand and get it done right. When this is the case, I try to pay attention to the others in my group, so that if the need arises, I can make sure everyone has a chance to share and keep that one individual from taking the whole project hostage.

Also, at school I have volunteered for the student government and we were put into teams to set up for holiday festivities, barbecue’s, and other events put on by the school. When everyone showed up who were supposed to and pitched in, doing their part, it worked out really well; but often times, only a few showed up and we would have to reorganize the tasks at hand so the few of us could actually get it done in time. It was on these teams where I truly saw the importance of and care it took for each of us to do our best to succeed.

I strongly believe that there is more to teams than just varied areas of skill and expertise and equal effort being put into it, but also the dedication to the goal, willingness to work towards that goal together with others, and also familiarity with the other members on the team. In the classroom, we are randomly counted off and placed into teams with people we have never really talked to before and usually haven’t been in class with long enough to know their way of thinking or level of participation. Therefore, these last-minute, thrown together, and given a project to complete without any time to really formulate a plan, type of teams often fail and are dissatisfied with the final outcome. If you know the members in your assigned group and know how to communicate with them ahead of time, plus know the purpose and the expectations before a team is put together, the more likely the team will work together and accomplish their purpose with pride and satisfaction.

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