Overview of Plays Well with Others
Increase Your Effectiveness in Any Group
“Computer skills are expected on a resume; they are no longer a bonus; they are now considered necessary basic skills. However the skill of the future, the most sought after skill now, is the ability to work in a team, to work collaboratively, to play well others.” (Kate Austin, Director of Simulation and Digital Entertainment Program at UB, 2006)
We sit through such boring or frustrating or ‘resultless’ work meetings every day.
We think that nothing can be done, and even if it could, we look to others to do the ‘something’ that will change it. Yet, there are actions that effective group members can take to influence groups we are in to become more directed, more fun, more effective. How do we identify and learn them?
Just a note here that while teams are a smaller division of the term groups; they get all the attention and all the applause. Work groups of any kind are able to produce collaborative synergy and satisfaction, with reasonable attention. This last sentence, while true, will horrify team aficionados who have committed their life to the difference. However, we must get over it. We want to see all members become more effective in all types of groups. Simply to make our group lives, our meeting lives, more livable. So, we will use the broader term Groups in this blog.
Most of us see work groups as working or not, based solely on some form of luck or the impact of a specific leader.
There is a rhyme and reason to effective work groups, and dysfunction, when present, can be observed and repaired. This shapes our more optimistic view of group work. We know now that the more members know, and practice the types of behaviors that actually help any group perform, the better the group experience is, not only for them but also for others. Anything that decreases our stress, and increases our generosity toward others is more than worth the effort.
Most groups do not do consistent collaborative work unless they pass through specific developmental stages and accomplish stage specific tasks. And it is possible, interesting, and easy to understand these stages, and not just throw around the terms.
Unfortunately, we can not look to most group development theories for help; they are not particularly positive. They portray members, that’s you, as initially whiny, passive, helpless, and/or aggressive ‘children’.
We know now that groups perform collaborative work when all members are engaged in relevant ways. That is, they know what actions to take at what time in the group’s development .. a broader form of ‘time and place’.
Coordinated effort and shared purpose do occur when all group members have developed specific and effective ways of working with each other and on the task. When we believe this, we can begin to think that something might be done systematically to enhance any group’s development. In addition, we can begin to identify and explain the specific actions and behaviors that members can use to get it all going, and keep it focused, on track, results oriented, and fun.
When specific tasks and accomplishments are understood and applied, the time it takes to learn these is more than made up for in eventual group productivity and member satisfaction. And, this blog is based on this belief that there is a more effective way of growing a group than the spontaneous “whatever” we most often find ourselves in.
Mostly, we emphasize that members themselves contribute to the development of the group’s work, and that it’s not up to the organization or the leadership to provide the only direction, since often they are “starting off on the back foot” as well.
I hope this blog will enhance your capacity to think more quickly, to identify ‘time & place” and relevant action, and to help in small relevant bites.
I also hope this blog will improve your competence in work groups to the extent that it contributes to your personal and professional growth, your group/work satisfaction, and the satisfaction of your colleagues.
Let me know your thoughts and questions about being an effective group member. Thanks, Sharon