How to be a Team Player

Team Communication

Mary McNamara

Sun Oct 14 2018 07:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

In the age of mass information and an up and coming educated generation, the progress that society makes is done so together, more often than not. If you are a student leader, you will work as a part of a team. Not only that, but you will work as a part of MANY teams. A team is defined as “a group of people with different skills and different tasks, who work together on a common project, service, or goal, with a meshing of functions and mutual support” (University of Washington, 2012). What does this look like in the context of a campus? That depends on your role. Teams are dynamic; always changing by the addition or departure of team members, the setting in which teams work together, and above all the goals that teams set to collectively achieve. So, for a resident assistant, their team (staff) will change as new people are hired or resident assistants graduate to other positions, as residents come and go from living in campus residence halls, and as they identify and create plans to act on different opportunities for their students. Beyond this, teams will need to communicate as these changes occur and these new goals are identified. This communication is also dynamic and changes within teams, and based on the team itself. It is critical that teams learn to communicate effectively. Communication in a team can be difficult. As teams form (are created and re-created), storm (come together and begin communicating for the first time), and settle into norms (begin behaving consistently with one another), there are many different parts of the process that are vulnerable to ineffective communication. If a member of a team cannot make meetings, if one voice overshadows the rest, if teams do not set expectations and goals from the beginning, and so forth, problems can arise. Therefore, it is important to understand that communicating in a team always has the potential to be effective.

 

To communicate effectively, all a team needs to do is be prepared and be constant in communication. Being prepared goes from the micro level of thinking before speaking, all the way to the macro level of creating agendas for meetings, or preparing written transcripts for speeches. In the beginning it is hard to prepare. Sometimes individuals are hesitant to tell team members they are struggling or to reveal information that is not fully developed. Once teams are comfortable in their roles and can rely on other team members, that barrier is diminished and coming prepared to any setting is possible. From there, teams can learn to be constant in communication. The work individuals do on their own are shared with the team, updates should flow freely between team members, and regular meeting times or set mediums of communication should be in place. This continuity acts to preserve the goals of the team “Constant communication ensures that our team is all aiming toward the same mission.” (Julia Crocco, IACURH Coordinating Officer for NCC Training & Development, 2018.) Communication might seem obvious to teams, or anything involving more than one person. In reality, it is not something thought through by many people. Know that because you will inevitably work in a team, communication should act as a starting point for a majority of the work you do.

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