Making the Most of a Team Project

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Working on a team project, whether it's for your job, a college course or a volunteer program, can sometimes be a challenge. Any time you combine a group of people with different personalities and differing points of view, you're bound to create some tension. Recently, I had to work with a group of people to help organize a community improvement project. Although each of the people involved was passionate about the project, we all have very different ideas about how to accomplish it. Since most of us were leaders, it was challenging to step back and allow others to lead and take charge of parts of the project.


As I was looking for some help or advice about how to make the most of the team project and how to keep the group moving forward together, I found a great article from Fast Company about how basketball can teach you a lot about teamwork.Here is what the article had to say about making the most of your team project:


Stay focused on your mission. If you don't already have a mission statement, take a moment to write down a quick sentence or even just a few words that clarify what your objective is. It might seem unnecessary, but it's helpful to have something to remind you what your goal is. As the project grows, there will be so many little problems and details to distract you and pull your attention in different directions. When this happens, read the mission statement to remember the main goal.


Appoint one leader. In a group with many strong personalities, there may be several people who naturally want to take charge. Instead of allowing everyone to do what they want, appoint one person to be the leader. That way, they can delegate and assign different parts of the project to smaller teams. This leader will serve to mediate any conflict and ensure that everyone gets a say.


Make some ground rules. Having a few ground rules is important in any team activity. Even in a pickup game of basketball, the rules make a difference. One of the best rules, in my opinion, is to honor the call. This means that if the leader decides to go in a certain direction, then you should support it – even if you disagree or had a differing opinion. Once the call is made, it's done. Typically in a team project situation, the person who disagrees will spend their time complaining or even trying to sabotage the rest of the project because they are upset with the call. Don't be this person.


Don't ignore problems. If you are having a problem or conflict within your team, don't just hope that it will resolve itself, because it rarely works out that way. Instead, what happens is that resentment and negativity will grow until it begins to threaten the entire project or group effort.


Don't take it personally. In basketball they say, “Leave it on the court.” When working together, don't take any of the arguments or conflict personally. Remember that you are all there with the same goal. No matter how heated the debate might get, always be able to shake hands and walk it off afterward.


What problems have you encountered when working as a team? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


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