Shortcutting… Teamwork

29 May

I was doing a project today that involved a whole lot of that working together, cooperation business. And in the process, I discovered not so much what makes a good teammate, as what makes a bad teammate. The truth is, there are different roles in a team, and in different situations, we all take up different ones. I tend to be the messing around, unhelpful but (I like to think) kinda fun to have around teammate, but today I found myself slotting into the role of boring bossy killjoy who tries to keep things moving forward and is the arch enemy of the messing around, unhelpful, ‘fun’ type. Having spent most of my life on the other side of the glass, I could almost hear the thoughts of my teammates as I made an unhappy face at every suggestion I didn’t think would result in the utmost productivity, or as I nagged everyone to stop looking up pretty dresses online and finish the task at hand. In short, I had become the person I detested. But on the bright side, I have been able to use this experience to direct me on how to deal with teamwork a bit.

Firstly, you have to make a choice. Would you rather win or be popular? This is a very difficult decision for me, as I am both incredibly competitive and have a constant need to feel liked by those around me. I normally base my decision then on two factors. Firstly, how important is it to succeed as a team? What is at stake? If it’s a simple bonding exercise, then I go for the loveable rogue type role. If however, there is potentially some kind of prize at the end if things go well, or some kind of severe embarrassment to be suffered in front of lots of people if they don’t, then I decide that winning is more important. The second factor is: Is there anyone else who will take charge if you don’t? If there is someone you know will naturally be the boring bossy killjoy, and will do a good job of it, then let them take the wheel. There’s no need to sacrifice your popularity if you’ll be able to do well anyway. If on the other hand you can see that your entire team consists of ‘loveable’ rogues, then it’s probably best to take charge. Hopefully they’ll all forget about how annoying you were in a week or two. Also, as a side note, if you are planning to take charge, it’s a good idea to pick a side-kick to whom you can bitch about the slackers of the team. Because they’ll be bitching about you.

If you have reluctantly resumed bossypants position, then there are some steps you can take to keep the friction to a minimum. The best piece of advice I can give you is this: pick your battles. I know this is a cliched phrase, but trust me, it’s better not to argue about every single suggestion anyone else has. Even if you think something’s a waste of time, it might well be less of a waste of time than the next suggestion, so it is often best to agree to it so as to placate the mob. If you keep on ignoring what everyone else is saying, they’ll probably start ignoring you too. On this note, I should also add that it’s always a good idea to listen to what people have to say. Then you can try and twist their ideas into what you want to do, and make them think they thought of it. Mwahahaha. Finally, try and punctuate your bossy commands with some humour. If you can make people laugh, they are putty in your hands…

Remember, there’s no ‘I’ in team!

Keep shortcutting,


Don’t be a Darth…


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