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.



Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: