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Picking on You!

No T-bird can escape from team work and for most of us, team work is challenging, especially with people from diversified backgrounds. Teamwork can be frustrating, restless and listless. However it also can be eye-opening, inspiring and rewarding.

Our team watched Professor Youngdahl’s project management videos together before departure. Based on the Team Performance Curve in the video, we realized that the whole team performance actually drops down from simply combining each individual’s work when it becomes a Pseudo team. Only after exceeding the potential team, teamwork is meaningful. To become a real team or a high performance team, we had plenty of meetings on how to achieve that. We had several discussions on the team contract: knowing each other’s motivation to join this TEM Lab project in order to align everybody, learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses to cooperate, and understanding each other’s push back to respect. The push back meeting actually happened several times, especially after we were in the field. The new environment made us realize the things we never thought about before. For example, mosquito bites could drive us crazy.

One really good thing about our team is that we are open to each other to talk about opinions and together we make improvements. One thing we did quite often is trying to “pick on” each other.

For most of members in our team, this is our first time in Indonesia.  No matter how many times we read Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands, how many dos and don’ts we memorized, there is always the time that we want to slap our forehead and say “Ah, I shouldn’t have, but I did it!”  During our meetings, this “pick on you” session took place.  We pointed out each other’s mistakes such as “you gave back your name card to the security using your left hand”, “you shake hands too firmly” or “you speak too loudly to them”. After several days of picking on each other, we developed a habit of paying attention to all the details of every single move we made. There were eight eyes watching each other.

We also focused on how to work together more effectively. In group meetings, we are really picky on the content of the opinion. It makes us think twice before we make a point or raise a question. After talking to our clients, we usually have a meeting talking about the way we addressed our point: Was it clear and effective? Was it too direct or indirect? How can we improve? As we come from different backgrounds, it really helps us to think from different perspectives and choose different styles to talk to our clients.

Working in a team has never been easy. After five weeks, 24 hours a day together, I am not sure if we will still want to see each other again. But I am sure that during these five weeks, we will trust and rely on each other like we trust and rely on ourselves to complete our work as a good team.