Ah, teamwork… That scary word that even some of the most extroverted personalities fear. We’ve all probably had some memorable experiences doing group work that we wished had gone differently. Luckily, we’ve been given tools to help overcome the anxiety that is attached to trying to collaborate with other students. Ken Haycock and Enid Irwin both hit on one core theme that stuck out to me in their insights with how to foster successful teamwork — and that was communication. Communication, like with many interactions even outside of school, is what seems to drive productive, meaningful work.
Irwin mentions a few times the importance of “attitude and planning” which lead to “participation, communication, and team goals.” Both attitude and planning require the ability to openly talk to peers and teammates. Attitude might not seem like it would fall under the broader umbrella of communication but I think it has its place. If our personal attitudes or someone with whom we are working with is less than stellar it’s important to be able to discuss it by either vocalizing why we are feeling unenthusiastic in order to resolve it. Conversely, if we are enthusiastic it’s important to present that to our team as well, instead of remaining silent. This also brings the need for a self-awareness of how we are perceiving our place in the group, or being in tune with what others may be feeling.
Haycock on the other hand presented something that he called “courageous conversations” that I really struck a chord with. He stressed the importance of, even though it may be uncomfortable for some of us (myself included), to set forth ground rules right from the get go. As a team we should be able to convey what we deem important to being a successful group and also the certain things that we may get irked by such as not being on time or staying on task. For myself a lack of communication itself is a pet peeve. We all have circumstances that present challenges and may affect group work but being responsible and letting the other members of a team know what you are struggling with or that you may not be present for a meeting is key in keeping group work effective.
One of my biggest struggles with group work in my undergrad studies stemmed from the fact that I was a bit older than most of my classmates and felt like many of them did not want to be there and did not value others time. Fortunately, I don’t think too many of us are in the SLIS program because we felt like we had to. We are here because we want to be! We all know how valuable our own time is with our busy lives, and I think it will be easier for us to value the time of our classmates when it comes to group work. Staying organized, creating calendars or keeping planners, and being proactive in setting schedules for ourselves in addition to communication should help all of us make the most of our time here together. Now let’s get to work!