I’m here today to admit that that I’m addicted to Bloomberg Businessweek. I love the magazine because it always has me talking. I was flying back from New Jersey last night and I stumbled upon an article titled, “Why American B-School Students Can’t Stand Teamwork.” It’s a pretty clear title that paints a sad picture around the current state of teamwork in the workplace. Strategic planning is all about working together toward a common goal and when I hear that our best and brightest minds are shunning this idea, it gets me nervous.
The article points to a survey that polled top MBA students and only 13 percent of American students listed team projects as their preferred teaching method. The trend is attributed to the American culture because when the author polled international students the results were completely different. The article points to the fact that Americans hate to rest their performance on the performance of others. This is a flawed way of approaching teamwork because there’s absolutely no way of avoiding it. I’m a huge proponent of if you can’t beat them, join them.
Don’t get me wrong, during my time in undergrad and graduate school I worked on more group assignments than I care to admit. I would be lying to you if I said each of those engagements went well and I loved the process. The truth of the matter is that group assignments end poorly if you’re among a group that is less concerned about the project than you are. I remember one of my teammates going off the grid the last week of an assignment and it resulted in everyone picking up the slack. We chose to muscle through the assignment and handle the teammate issues after the project was completed. I don’t remember the topic of this paper but I clearly remember how we reacted to the situation.
This leads me to the point of today’s post. It doesn’t matter if you’re working in a 4 person shop or for a Fortune 100 blue chip company, you’re going to have to work with other people. You can’t roll your eyes, stamp your feet and do away with group projects. All world class organizations ensure that they hire the best talent and let them do what they do best. There’s nothing more powerful than a well-oiled, fully functional team but that it takes hard work. You need to embrace your group, get to know each other, and establish trust. You know what happens when trust forms? People generally try to do whatever they can to ensure they don’t let their colleagues down.
I love my team at Achieveit and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. We put in long hours but it’s because we have a clear vision on what needs to be done. I work hard for myself and to ensure I hold up my end of the bargain. Group projects are a fact of life, now take a deep breath and tell your team mates how much you appreciate them.