Teamwork is where each individual puts the goals and needs of the group above their own personal needs and goals. This does not mean that the individual isn’t important or that they cannot contribute personal ideas or strive to reach their personal goals. It means that they are willing to accept group decisions, to do tasks that are needed for group success and to put ‘the spotlight’ on the group as a whole not on personal achievements.
T.E.A.M. Together Everyone Achieves More!
Strong Teamwork is absolutely essential to succeed at robotic competitions. Most of these competitions have a fairly short timeframe to create a rather complicated machine. Building a robot takes a variety of skills and knowledge and a lot of work. It would be very difficult for one person to know enough and work long enough to do it alone. When you split up the workload, it becomes easier as each person does a part. By combining efforts, the group as a whole is more likely to succeed.
The hard part of teamwork is getting everyone to agree on what to do and who does what. Each person in the group has to be willing to compromise on decisions. Then, once decisions are made, each member must be willing to work on things that they might not have personally chosen. In other words setting aside individual preferences for the group good.
Another difficult part of teamwork is getting along, especially under pressure. When you put a group of people together, all with different personalities, then add the stress of difficult tasks, learning as you go and very short deadlines, tempers can flare. It is critical that team members show respect for each other and work really hard at communicating to prevent misunderstandings. It also helps to be a bit forgiving when someone else reacts badly.
Forming a successful team is a process with four stages:
- Forming: This is where members search for their position within the group, test the rules and assess leadership.
- Storming: The most difficult stage for a group. Members are finding it difficult to put team ahead of self. They are struggling to reach consensus, are impatient with slow progress, are focused on personal goals rather than team goals. This stage can be emotional and full of conflict.
- Norming: This is the reconciliation stage, where members begin to put the team goals at the forefront, where they align their goals to the team goals. Conflict reduces and members begin to create cooperative relationships.
- Performing: Team has discovered and accepted individual strengths and figured out how to use them to reach team goals.
When you add new members to a team, the team will go through this process again as new members are integrated into the group. Experienced members can help the process by being flexible enough to adjust roles to include new members. New members can help by having patience, and politely speaking up with questions and requests.
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If you wish to experiment with teamwork you can download these instruction sheets: