Guidelines for Effective Teamwork

This 8-minute video explains five guidelines for effective teamwork. It contains some humourous clips, plus excerpts from an interview with a university professor from Stanford. To me, some of the most interesting points she made were those about team conflict.

In particular, this educational video explains the difference between good conflict and bad conflict within a team.

After viewing the video and listening to the explanations, you may recognize some of the situations or have experienced them yourself. If that's the case, I expect you'll find the advice on how to deal with both types of conflict useful.

Briefly, task conflict may be healthy but interpersonal conflict can destroy a team. It's one thing to have conflict about how a task should be performed and entirely another for there to be conflict between people who don't like something about each other.

Task conflict can be good for the group overall because it typically results in a conversation about how best to get the job done. Personal conflict, on the other hand, is counterproductive. It detracts from the team getting on with the job and can result in poor team morale and performance.

Interpersonal conflict needs to be dealt with immediately. Preferably, some kind of intervention should occur quickly to assist in resolving the conflict before it escalates.

Depending on the nature of the interpersonal conflict, it may be necessary to engage an external facilitator or mediator. Or it may be as simple as creating uninterrupted time, space or an environment where the people involved can have a conversation about their differences. Ideally a team leader would guide the team members to express their grievances, understand the position of the other person, and reach some agreement as to how they will work together as part of the team.

Other interesting concepts discussed in the video were:

  1. The Importance of a Clear Purpose: The first meeting of a team is the most important because it sets expectations and clarifies the goals for why the team was formed in the first place. It is important to allow the team members to interact and to express how they interpret the goals of the team.

  2. Using a Midpoint Review to Increase Effectiveness: This tip really helped me. I was aware of the value of this idea before watching this video. However, I often forget to bring everyone 'back to the table' part way through a project to take another look at the goals to see if we are heading in the right direction. So it was good to be reminded! If a team isn't on track, then a midpoint review provides an opportunity to look at ways to reorganize to get to the common goal. Often teams and team leaders think that this kind of review and/or reorganization is an admission of failure or a waste of time. But as the professor in this video explains, this step can be critical in reminding the entire team of the goals and expectations. Or maybe setting some new goals or developing new procedures is required to effectively achieve the ultimate aim.

  3. Swift Trust: This concept is one I had never come across before. The lecturer states that a strong team has 'swift trust'. Sometimes, what may appear to be interpersonal conflict could just be that members of the group don't fully trust the other person's intentions. Apparently, this can often be misinterpreted as interpersonal conflict. However, what may really be required is a discussion of each person's motivations to help improve trust within the team.

This video is now a little dated, but I think it still contains some useful tips for building effective teamwork. I hope it will deepen your overall understanding of teamwork principles.

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