Some of us are born gregarious and capable of working well in teams. Others have issues when it comes to interacting with others one one one — don’t sweat it if you’re this type of person. It takes all sorts!
However, this advice isn’t exactly a load off when it comes to actually interacting in a team setting. Your personality and social misgivings are valid, but these are things that have to be set aside when it comes to getting work done.
This issue also goes both ways — if you’re a person who IS good with working in teams or pairs, it’s important that you recognize the working styles and insecurities of those you’re teamed up with.
Communication is essential when working in a group, no matter who you are. In order to make sure that everyone is on the same page and working comfortably, consider asking these four questions when working with another person (or with team members).
1. How do you want to communicate outside of face-to-face meetings?
Some people like to text. Others like methods like group phone calls or Google Hangouts. Establishing the best line of communication for everyone can lead to a better overall vibe while dealing with the project at hand.
Some people will have to compromise when it comes to group work, and this also applies to one-on-one communication. For instance, if you like to talk on the phone while your partner prefers texting, someone will have to bend so the other’s needs are met.
2. What’s the most important thing we want to accomplish?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when working in a group, usually because group tasks are assigned to teams due to the large amount of work to do. Even when splintering off into smaller groups, like partner work, it can be hard to split up assignments or decide on what to do first.
This should be one of your first questions. Establishing the most important aspect of the task can clear up a lot of unnecessary chatter and communication about other, less important goals. Set your priorities first, then worry about how to accomplish them.
3. Do you have any communication challenges?
Being blunt is sometimes the best way to get to the heart of an issue. We all have communication weaknesses, and addressing them can allow others to adjust for these weaknesses. For example, if someone is bad about reading texts but not responding to them, this issue should be acknowledged and the person in question will then be held accountable.
This also clears up miscommunication out of the gate. Like in this example, team members or the person’s partner won’t be left wondering why the text messages aren’t being answered.
4. Will you speak up if difficulties arise?
Communication breakdowns happen to the best of us, but we’re defined by how we handle them — not that they exist at all. Everyone within a team must understand that if they can’t do something or have an emergency, they need to tell everyone so the entire group can adjust accordingly. In partner work, this information is even more critical.
These questions are vague — meaning they apply to most general group scenarios. Assess your own team situation and ask yourself if any specific questions should be asked that have to do with your own unique team and assignment.