The Challenges of “Teamwork”

Carol A. Hand

I’ve been thinking about the difficulties of teamwork given our socialization to value individualism and competition in this “selfie era.” It’s a challenge my students are facing at the moment. How does one build a cohesive team that honors the diverse worldviews, talents, and strengths which each person brings to the circle of caring?

Fostering inclusive mutually responsible teamwork is the foundation I’ve attempted to use when developing new projects or supervising staff. Still, conflict is inevitable. I’ve had lots of practice trying to find solutions. This morning, I crafted a simple list of the steps I used when negotiating.

I’m here to listen to your side of the story

I want to understand what happened from all of the different perspectives

I’m not here to assign blame, I’m here to look for solutions

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who did what

What I want to know is whether differences can be reconciled,

what solutions everyone has to offer for healing the harm done,

what responsibilities you are willing to shoulder to make healing possible,

whether you are willing and able to respectfully collaborate with others

on a consensually-established common goal in the future.



Community (clip art best)

This approach wasn’t easy and didn’t always succeed. Sometimes the situations were one-sided and too serious to be resolved without giving volatile offending/defensive staff the choice of resigning or being fired. Despite the political blow-back in those cases, the weight of the evidence prevailed. But when it did work, and it did more often than not, little miracles happened.

I would appreciate hearing about your experiences and approaches for dealing with conflict to respectfully and inclusively reconcile differences whenever possible. This post is just my way of thinking on paper (or in this case, a computer screen) to explore alternative approaches that might be helpful for students.



7 thoughts on “The Challenges of “Teamwork”

  1. Even in musical groups, where we were all dependent on each other to bring the music to life, the individual personalities and desires quite often got in the way of the music and destroyed the group.

    I’ve been thinking about this topic ever since our conversation, and I think I’m in over my head. In fact, Carol, I am considering whether I am in over my head on everything:

    “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing” Socrates

    I think this is where I am at, Carol!

    So I’m afraid I have little to add to this conversation. Your list was excellent, by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comments remind me of acapella choir, Dave. I do remember how egos sometimes got in the way of the harmonies that were possible. I agree that the more we learn, the more we realize how little we know or will ever know. Nonetheless, I appreciate your comments and kind words. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. perhaps some children
    never grow up
    to understand
    what it means
    to be a team player, Carol.
    if only there was enough
    time for a group to become
    familiar with each other
    before delving into
    important facts & issues 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is difficult to foster teamwork in a short time within educational systems that foster individualism and competition. But I keep trying! We carved out an hour during class today for teamwork and made some important progress in building a sense of cohesiveness within all of the teams. Only time will tell if it works in the long run, and I probably will never know if it does. Nonetheless, I’ll still keep trying, David. I believe it makes a difference to plant seeds that may germinate someday.

      Liked by 1 person

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