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The Big 13 – Teamwork

The degree to which a group of people can work together effectively can be a decisive factor in whether they can achieve their goals.

Poor team work can lead to disagreements, negativity and inaction. How often does a cry go out from a frustrated team member: “I could have done this in a third of the time myself, and with none of the disagreements!’

But ‘team working’ is one of the biggest shifts in business management today – working with others is now almost inescapable.

Much of good team work comes down to how well people get on with each other and their ability to apply basic social skills to get the best out of others and their situation. These skills include flexibility, sensitivity, compromise, persuasion, respecting and participating. With these skills a group can commit to a common purpose and attain their goals, they can act as effective mentors and nurture the best in one another.

Case Study – Book Club at St Ann’s

When Enterprise Co-ordinator Lindsey Sandberg took over administration of the school’s book club last year her first decision was to put the children in charge.

She asked for volunteers to run the club and a group of pupils came forward. Over the next few weeks they learnt about all aspects of running the book club. They learned about all the ordering procedures, when money was taken, how it was banked and what happened when a delivery arrived. For the first time they became familiar with the idea that the school earned commission for the amount of books they sold.

The children immediately set themselves the challenge of improving the rate of commission achieved. They worked in their small team to brainstorm ideas to raise the profile of the book club and encourage children to make purchases. They took over time in assembly and ‘advertised’ in classes. They made posters and wrote letters and marketed books they thought might be popular.

The result has been that ever since they took over the administration of the club it has achieved an average monthly commission of £200, compared with the previous figure of just £70.

But Lindsey said the most striking element of the project was the level to which the small group had bonded and worked as a team. She said: “They run the whole club now, from giving the orders on the telephone to delivering the books to classes. I only need mention it to one group member that we need a meeting and the information will have been disseminated to the others, with the children organising messages to be sent to the appropriate classes.”

The children have been so successful that they are now mentoring other children to widen the network of pupils that participate. The first eight children have each engaged a friend to help with Book Club. The next step is for the sixteen children to train Year Five children who will take over from them when they have left.

Lindsey said: “I act now only in a supervisory role. If there’s a problem they might come to me for advice but ultimately they work as a team to decide on a course of action. They look after the club and each other and it has promoted a genuine sense of team work.”