Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Being an Effective Team Player

As mentioned previously, I'm enrolled in ODU's Leadership Management Development Certificate this semester. This first track is primarily focused on personal development, and covers topics ranging from time management to effective conflict resolution. This series of posts allows me to reflect and organize my thinking on the topics covered.

LMDC-I Session Four focused on teamwork! Sports metaphors ran rampant, and the discussion stayed upbeat. I did notice that this session seemed to be geared to people who have only limited roles. The Libraries are an incredibly collaborative environment, and we regularly have teams and ad-hoc task forces coming together to complete a project or six. One advantage of that environment is that we're fairly efficient when it comes time to form a group. Tuckman's stages of group development (Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing) were raised in the discussion almost immediately--but, surprisingly, not by the facilitators. The party line for this session was that self-improvement and the avoidance of conflict ("Maintain a positive attitude at all costs") would result in strong teams, without any sense of group dynamics and learning to "storm" in healthy ways.

Some work was devoted to the nine-role Belbin Team Inventory, generally looking at the notion that the strongest teams often comprise members with varying strengths who can balance out each others' weaknesses. This dovetails with my own sense of "Each to the limits of their abilities," with an inclusive bent that welcomes individuals to put their best/most productive foot forward.

There was also a reminder that nobody can be an effective team member if they've burnt out. Team members need to take care of themselves. I recalled a number of heated discussions from my EMT days about "Looking out for Number One." While my priorities are not quite so life-and-death these days, I think it's important to remember that mantra. If you burn out, you're not helpful to anybody, including yourself. Protecting the core of your being from physical exhaustion, mental fatigue, and emotional "low battery" will make sure that you continue to be an effective team member throughout the workday and beyond.

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