Talking About Teams
The first step in teaching teamwork is to lead a discussion about teams and why they are important. Remember that teams are a critical part of work skills; performance and an ability to work in a team is a must for every resume. Discuss where teams are found:
- Clubs and activity groups
- In the workplace
Talk about why teams are useful. Reasons to consider include:
- Others can think of things we may forget
- Many hands make light work
- People to share the workload with
- Taking turns
- More motivating and interesting to work with others
- Someone to talk to
Introduce the teamwork game by explaining: “I need to put together a team of people. There is a hard job coming up, and I’ll need the best group possible to do it.” Then give students a list of the team characteristics list, and ask them to decide on their team of five.
Team Member Characteristics
- Only willing to lead, but won’t follow directions.
- Loves to be in charge but can work with others also.
- Very shy and quiet – refuses to contribute in larger groups.
- Has good ideas to share.
- Loves saying how well everyone else is doing, but doesn’t do a lot herself.
- A great talker.
- A great do-er.
- A great listener.
- Good at finishing a job, but not so great at starting one.
- Argues with everyone, but very fast and efficient.
- Full of inspiring ideas, but not great at common sense.
- Very practical; good at hands on jobs.
- Complains all the time about having to contribute.
- A quiet achiever.
- Loves to hand over to others.
- Disappears when the going gets tough.
The Teamwork Challenge: Lost By The Beach
Tell students they should:
“Imagine your search and rescue team has arrived at a camping ground by the beach where a young child has gone missing. It is nearly evening, and a search is being organized to find the child before nightfall. All the equipment is ready, but the track leading away from the beach side camp is narrow and the terrain is rough and rugged.The nearby cliffs are reported to be unstable. Only a small group of five people will be able to set off in the initial search party. The rest will stay behind and join in the search in the morning if the child has not been found. Too many people may dislodge large boulders from the cliff face, or will get in each others’ way on the small track”.
Ask students to look again at their list of team characteristics, and decide if they want to make any changes to their team, now they know the specifics of the job.
Once they have their final list, they should group together with two or three others, and explain their choices. Then, as a whole class, make a ranking of all the team member characteristics, and see who were the most popular choices.
Debrief and Discuss
Ask students to consider if their choices would change depending on the type of task to be performed, and why. What sorts of characteristics are best suited to which kinds of tasks? Do people really have one dominant personality trait, or are people more complex than that? Do they know someone from their own lives who is typical of one of the characteristics described? How would they describe their own personality when it comes to teamwork?