We work in teams for much of our work. And if I adopted a parakeet for every time I hear “teamwork makes dreamwork,” I’d have an aviary.
But, I think that statement needs revision–they need to change it to “good teamwork makes dreamwork.” Because, let’s face it, you’re not ultra productive on every team, and it can stem from different reasons. But, one major hindrance that I’ve noticed personally and with my friends is that they have trouble getting along with their coworkers.
Sometimes, it’s actually no one’s fault if you don’t click with your coworkers; you may just have completely different personalities or styles of communicating, and you just don’t mesh together. Other times, there may be distinct qualities we don’t naturally gravitate towards. But in my experience, creating effective teamwork is much less about the work and more about the team.
You see, I think that with the right mix, a highly effective team could tackle some of the most complex and arduous tasks. We can’t do every task independently, and collaboration is one of the keys to success. The challenge is creating that bond within people, where they feel like they can rely on each other enough so that obstacles crumble in their midst.
So, insert the main 2 problems you might have with your co-workers: your personalities don’t blend well together, or there’s something specific you dislike about them (or both). I’ve thought a lot about this problem–what’s hindering us from making really good relationships with our coworkers, and what’s in our power to change that problem.
Situation 1: Personalities Clash
You’re type A, they’re type B. Sometimes, it just doesn’t mesh, and your basic thought processes don’t align well. And, that’s okay. You don’t have to be best friends with who you work with, but you do have to work together.
So, just work together. Focus your conversations on work; this way, you’re both being productive and finding a common interest in your conversations together.
A big tip I learned from my supervisor at my internship this summer is to identify the coworker’s personality, and play to what they’re like. For example, if your coworker is super professional and results-oriented, make sure you plan your meeting ahead, have the deliverables in front of you (or at least in mind), bring a pen and paper, and get to the point when you’re talking. You can’t change them, but you can change how you interact with them by knowing how they operate.
Situation 2: “I don’t like that about you”
Sometimes, we find that a certain trait someone has just bothers us; it’s like you just can’t look beyond this one thing s/he always says or that one habit s/he has. I used to come across situations like this, but I thought of a trick to help solve not being able to look past what you don’t like about someone. And it’s not really about changing them–it’s more about changing yourself and your perceptions about them.
Let’s pretend you have this coworker who always needs to have the loudest voice in the room. It may be annoying, but if you change how you view them from a negative to positive perception, like “they’re not afraid to be heard,” it plants that positivity seed in your mind.
Is it corny?
But, focusing on something you admire about your coworkers can help you realize why they’re on your team and what they bring to the table. Think about what your coworker brings to the team that the team wouldn’t otherwise have; what specifically does s/he add that everyone needs? It helps you to recognize the value of your team which can give you more confidence in them.