Working in a team

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Working as part of a team is often a style of working that we don’t get to practise until we start our first job. As a starting point, focus on seeing things from others’ perspectives.

‘Ask yourself if you can see the task at hand from another vantage point,’ says Saj Jetha, an economist and founder of training and talent service The Smarty Train. ‘Is someone on the team feeling stretched at the moment? Do you understand why what you’re doing matters? Understanding individual pressures and preferences will help you to work better together.’

Jetha also suggests always keeping the following in mind: progress, plans and problems: ‘These are – 99% of the time – the only things that you’ll need when someone asks you for an update. Valuable team players can always report back on these three elements, any time, every time.’

Building confidence

Teamworking takes time and practice, says business and innovation expert Erica Wolfe-Murray, and not everyone finds it easy: ‘Have a chat with your manager to see if they can identify areas where you could improve or to help you feel more engaged. If it is an issue around confidence or “being heard”, there are lots of online self-learning courses you could take. Or it may be that the company offers coaching to help build confidence.’

If you’re reluctant to work as part of a team because you feel like you’re giving up control in some way, remember the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, says Gareth Cram, director of business transformation at Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting UK.

‘You’re likely to achieve far more as a team of people with different opinions and experiences to bring to the table,’ says Cram. ‘So look for ways to make an immediate impact in a team. Look to take some of the load off your colleagues – demonstrate with some quick wins that you’re there to support them in achieving the shared goal.’

What you mustn’t do is get sucked into the blame game when things don’t go as well as planned.

‘When a project goes awry, everyone will have played a part in what went wrong,’ says Jetha. ‘Pointing fingers won’t undo the mistake and it probably won’t help to prevent the same mistake in the future. Owning what went wrong and working out what can be done differently is what makes a brilliant team.’

Finally, make sure you communicate openly and frequently, as this can only foster greater trust in the team, which is vital for its success.

Top five tips for teamworking

  • See things from others’ perspectives and understand their individual pressures.
  • Keep ‘progress, plans and problems’ in mind and make sure you can report back on all three at any time.
  • Understand what your role is in each situation.
  • Never play the blame game – own failure collectively and then focus on the task in hand.
  • Know when you need to make decisions alone or together.

Source: Saj Jetha, The Smarty Train

This article was first published in the August 2019 edition of Student Accountant magazine

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