Fair Play in Teamwork


Being successful as a Team

We, a team of four members planned to present a paper in an International Conference in Dubai. We sat for a brief meeting, selected the topic and after thorough researching and a series of discussions prepared the abstract. We sent the abstract to the organizers and waited for their acceptance.

In the meantime, we got busy with our everyday routine – classes, lessons preparation, evaluating coursework and meetings.  Sometime later, we got the acceptance mail and the deadline for sending the full paper.  We kept procrastinating working on the paper due to our workload until we had just about five days left to send the full paper. We desired to work on the paper, but due to time constraints, we were doubtful of doing justice to the work.

Nevertheless, we felt that as a team, we could do wonders with the time we had. With a positive attitude and commitment, we pledged to work together and as a result, we were able to produce a quality paper for the conference.

We had often wondered how we could pull together such a nice job with so little time. Reflecting on the happenings, I believe that our success was due to the team’s approach for achieving our goal and playing fair in the process.

Fair Play in Teamwork – Allow me to share our approach and rules of the game: 
  • Respecting Ground rules

    A team’s success depends on respecting the ground rules. Setting realistic ground rules such as attending team meetings at a short notice, producing quality work, meeting deadlines, respecting others’ views and having an open frame of mind were few rules we set for ourselves.

  • Who is the leader?

    If every member in the team is willing to play by the ground rules and to take responsibility for their actions, do we really need a team leader?  Perhaps, the need for a team leader is situational. Our team believed on each other’s capabilities and their role in delivering expected results. Hence, each one assumed leadership with a focus on the goal. There was no need for formal leadership.

  • Delegation of tasks

    Half the work is complete if we delegate the right kind of work to the right person with the right kind of knowledge and skills.  We made a list of tasks and in our case instead of delegating, we picked tasks for ourselves based on our preference and strengths. This way we committed ourselves and were responsible for the outcomes.

  • Figure out time

    Teams that understand the value of time take the path of success. It is necessary to plan your tasks and schedule the time for completing each task. We set a deadline for each task and this helped us to keep track of time and prioritize tasks.

  • Progress report

    Periodical reporting made by individual members helps monitoring the progress and ensures that the members are taking the right direction towards their goal. Our team made it a point to meet at least twice every day to share progress and exchange notes for approval.

  • Strictly ‘no-criticism-suggestion-only formula’

    People, who only see the imperfections, refuse to accept others’ opinions and stand by their own ideas will only be instrumental for creating dysfunctional and disoriented teams.  Our team members understood and followed this formula to the dot. In every meeting, we checked the team’s progress and gave suggestions for improvements. Open-mindedness and transparency helped us to sail smooth.

  • Willingness to rethink and recreate

    Setting aside your ego will go a long way in the team’s success. Our team believed in the strength of diversified thinking. Therefore, based on members’ inputs, every member in our team was willing to refine and recreate the work. The only objective was to bring out a worthy paper.  Constructive feedback helped us to bring out a commendable product.

  • Together for business

    Teams are successful if members work alone but gather to get the completed tasks in good order. Overseeing the completion of tasks, compiling materials, checking the flow and flaws, language check and final scrutiny both individually and as a team helps in achieving near perfection, as it helped ours.

Think on the above lines and try it out. You may be a member of an in-house team or a matrix team. You may have friends in the team or you may be meeting the team members for the first time. You may continue to work with the same team for other projects or may disband after completing one project.  It does not matter with whom you are going to work or for how long. What matters is ‘how’ you are going to work.

Do you have similar experiences to share or like to give suggestions? Please leave your comments in the box below.