Improving teamwork through mutual understanding and self-assessment

William Woods Business

An article in last month’s Harvard Business Review, titled “Bring Out the Best in Your Team,” discusses an experiment conducted among university students that identified a common flaw in teamwork dynamic.

“When teams form to take on tasks, they are seldom able to tap the full knowledge of every member, in large part because the most confident, outgoing people get the most airtime, even if they’re not the most expert.”

One of the ways this dynamic can be changed is when the team members take time to discuss the relevant knowledge they each have.  This allows the team to take a quick skill set inventory, which naturally establishes appropriate authority of each team member.

At school or work, this step often happens organically, perhaps not at first but in most cases eventually. Once we get to know our cohort classmates or colleagues at work, the tasks are often assigned with personal strengths and skill sets in mind. However, it is important that teams be proactive about getting to know each other’s strengths early on in the teamwork assignment.

Beyond getting to know your team through their skill sets, some team-building models rely on self-assessment exercises that evaluate and classify personality types of each team member. This allows everyone to identify the ways in which they work best, but also become mindful of different personality types on the team.

The William Woods MBA in Entrepreneurial Leadership, offered at several locations in Missouri, is designed around cohorts that foster teamwork. One of the first classes students take as part of the program is Human Resources and Organizational Behavior. In this class, students learn about individual and group behavior within the context of an organization, which trains them to become effective members of both their team and the organization.

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