Something that we as young professionals overlook in our day to day lives is our teamwork. How often do we sit back and analyze the team of people we work with and envision them as teams seeking to achieve an ultimate goal. In fact, that may be the last thing on our minds when we’re young and pursuing our professions. That, or it may come as second nature. We all know the saying, teamwork makes the dreamwork. But how many of us are actually making the dream work? Does it align with our dream? Are we even dreaming? Is teamwork really effective?
All of these questions come into play when discussing teamwork. Without teamwork, we wouldn’t be capable of achieving our goals. Teamwork can make or break a job experience as well. Teamwork can be the catalyst for the professional career you see fit. It’s all on perspective. As young professionals, this is the time to soak everything in. To gain experience and learn from the mistakes of our contemporaries, and our predecessors. And one of the most important lessons should be how do we operate within different roles as a team.
There is no I in team
Being a young professional in my own right, I’ve experienced many teams. And I can tell you many times I have failed as a teammate, and many times I’ve succeeded as well. I’ve seen teams fall as well. Analyzing and devising the best characteristics of teamwork along the way. My experiences have allowed me to understand the power of teamwork and how it delivers magic in the professional realm. I think my first real experience in teamwork was in 2015 when I was in college.
I was with two of my good friends. We had just left the dining court after spending hours in the gym. The three of us were discussing how to make the collegiate experience better for not only ourselves but our community in Potsdam. It was then that my one friend had mentioned to me and the others that we should do a hip hop show. And that’s when it started.
From there we took on the mantle of creating a show for students, by students seeking the ability to produce a showcase with the concept of Black history involved. It was an ambitious project that saw myself and the other person go through a grueling process to achieve the best outcome. He took the lead, I followed, we both produced however he had more of the alpha and connections to pull it off. I learned from his leadership. Together we pulled off a magnificent showcase that allowed our contemporaries a stage to present their talents. It was a fun dynamic, I had enough say so to weave in whatever I wished for all the while allowing someone their own creative directorship. Neither stepped on the other’s toes and the event went well.
This first experience taught me how to speak for myself, as well as know that I am capable of creating something positive while working with a group of people. Most importantly, it taught me the value of teamwork and sharing a stage with people. Something that gets overlooked in teamwork is credit and sharing the stage. This person and I gave each other credit for the hard work we both put in. Initially, I had been nervous, because I had been on the short end of the stick and was afraid all my hard work was going to be overshadowed by the other person stealing the limelight. However with this person that was not the case. He gave me my moment, and I appreciate that to this day. The lesson here is to work with people who will recognize your work and value it not just in private, but in public. It’s about We, not ME and I felt this way throughout the process. There is no I in TEAM.
How many of us can relate to this? How many of us have worked hard on a project just to see someone else take the credit? I have been on both sides of the spectrum. I watched someone take all the credit for my hard work. And I have also taken the credit from other people subconsciously. It taught me how to be a better teammate in the sense that people will work with you when they are acknowledged. Everyone is a star on the team. In some way shape or form. Part of being a good teammate is making sure you get your credit, as well as giving credit when credit is due. When people are praised for their roles no matter how minuscule, they work harder. This is why you treat the janitor with the same respect as the CEO. Everyone has a job in a team, make sure as a teammate you recognize that.
Understand your role, and star in it
Recognizing your role is paramount to the success of any team. Being a star in your role is also significant. Understand that not in every situation are you going to be a leader on a team. Sometimes you have to follow. In the reverse, Youre not always going to be a follower, sometimes you have to lead. Being a young professional that has had jobs in many fields, I have experienced both roles. I’m here to tell you there were times I excelled, and times I failed miserably. I remember working at the Holiday Inn as a utility worker ( fancy name for dishwasher). One time the head chef placed me in charge of the utility staff on a busy day. I struggled massively. I spilled water all over the floor and got yelled at for using towels to clean it up. (I’m a smart kid I know). I spilled food all over the floor failing to help direct one of my staff. I had one of my workers leave towards the end of the shift because I yelled at him for misplacing something. I never felt so helpless and useless at that moment. I failed to star in my role and it trickled down and shattered the entire operation. Why is this? I lacked confidence in myself. I was also trying to be perfect and I was rattled easily. I recognized I wasn’t ready to lead, as good as I was at the job.
I had failed at being a star in my role as a leader and it showed, The event started at roughly 6:30 pm. It ended at around 11:00pm, I didn’t leave the building till after 2:00am. I had to pick up after all the mishaps, cleaning late after the event ended. I was distraught, exhausted and hitting myself hard on all my mistakes. But I learned from it. I learned to be more flexible with my leadership and allow myself to make mistakes as well as my team. I understood that the best leaders are flexible and malleable, that adjustments are necessary in order to make the best possible outcome. And also, how to star in my role. Several years later in grad school, I had to produce a hip hop show again. This was the 5th annual at my alma mater. This time I Implemented all the strategies and skills I learned from my failures in order to be the best leader and teammate possible to put on a great show. And I did. It was a masterpiece and a representation of not only my own growth but the growth of the show as a whole. I was able to star as a leader, giving each and every performer a chance to showcase their talent in a brilliant event that established the mastery of hip hop through the lenses of students. I loved every bit of it.
In another professional world, Now I work for the YMCA, as a coordinator. I work full time for the Black and Latino achievers and I assist my boss, the director in organizing events. My role? do whatever my boss assigns me. Making phone calls to invite people to our venues for our events, establishing forums and ideas for the events, whatever is necessary to achieve the best possible outcome for the event. Being a star in your role means sacrificing some of who you are to do the best at what youre supposed to do for the team in order to achieve the end goal. It assists you in learning how to take what you gained from that experience and implement it into your own goals.
Soak up everything to get better
Right now I part-time blog for Essence Latifah Photography and for Telegraph Local as a contributing writer. I am a cog in a wheel that helps two machines run. the goal for me is to learn how both companies run their business and websites so that when the time comes I can run my own news website. All the while starring in my role as a writer. I’m helping someone else’s dreamwork and soaking up everything. From Telegraph, I’m learning how to increase traffic through experience through website writing. I’m also learning how to write more concise, and detailed articles with my advanced writing prowess. I publish almost every day for telegraph Local. When the time comes I will have my own site running with its own contributing writers and eventually staff writers. Part of being a great teammate is also being a part of someone else’s vision and learning how to manifest your own. With Essence, I’m learning on the fly how to operate my own upstart business with little to nothing. The ins and outs of it and how it works in a local setting impacting the surrounding community’s lives. These are valuable tools to help me in the long run.
As I said previously, everyone sacrifices in a team. It is what we do with those sacrifices that determines who we are as teammates. not every scenario will we have the biggest voice or the most control. However, we must learn to be the best at what we’re doing at the time and learn the inner workings of the team to move up.
Know your teammates
It is important as a teammate to know who you’re working with. This is to see who you can collaborate with, who to stay away from, who to not trigger and who triggers you. A workplace has many personalities and if you’re lucky a diverse space. knowing who you’re working work is pivotal to a successful team environment. In a real moment, not every work environment are you seeking to be a part of a team to achieve the means of the organization. At times, money is involved. As in a paycheck. And in that instance, you constantly hear, I’m not here to make friends. that doesn’t stop you from becoming a teammate.
In any work environment, whether a job to pay the bills or a career seeking opportunity, you want a safe space to work in. That isn’t always possible. Just because you may be a good teammate doesn’t mean others can be. there are people who bring their problems to work, people who don’t know how to address others, people who are unprofessional, people who will try to get one over you. We go through this all the time in work environments. It’s important to analyze your workspace and know who to work with. Know what triggers your teammates. know their strengths and weaknesses so you can capitalize on them when necessary. At the end of the day, you’re part of a team, but you do also come first. So if the work environment isn’t pleasant to learn to adapt and make it work for you. That starts with making sure you have an established understanding with your teammates.
You are not alone in this experience. As a young professional, I’ve been a great teammate and I’ve bee a horrible teammate. However, I’ve learned what it takes to be on a team. Understand that in professional settings you are a part of a team, and it is important to understand your role on the team, your goals, and how to navigate that team to achieve not only the team’s goals but yours as well.
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