The teamwork conundrum


You often hear people talking about the workplace being their home away from home, but then wonder when they mumble profanities when the alarm rings out at 5 am. The truth is, work is work and not home, but it should be comfortable enough for an eight-hour sojourn nonetheless. And only you can make sure that it becomes that and stays that way.

Being a junior employee at a couple of workplaces, including WE, I’ve had the chance to observe and partake in quite a number of work dynamics and situations. So, from a junior’s point of view, here are four tips to help strike that good workplace balance that just might make it come close to feeling like home.

Making orders and taking them

There’s a difference between being a chore dispensing overlord and seeing the opportunity for someone’s skill to be used in an effective way. On the other hand, being tasked to do something, seeing it as a waste of your time, and thereby doing it as quickly as you can so it stops being your problem, is the exact behaviour that will ensure the next task you are asked to do is to close the door behind you as you leave.

Do you ‘handle-all-you-can’ or are you just a doormat?

As a junior, eager-to-impress employee, you might find yourself being the dumping site for whatever extra work your fellow and more senior employees need to get done. Put your best foot forward in doing the work, but take heed that you don’t become people’s last-minute resort after having exhausted their plans A, B and C.

Being given any kind of assignment is not in and of itself a bad thing, but if five of your seniors come to you at the last minute wanting the finished product ASAP, that just might prove to be a problem — to you mostly since you’re the one trying to prove yourself. You’re the one who would ultimately be identified as the team’s weakest link if all goes awry.

Criticism can be as good as a compliment

We often take criticism as persecution; in the work environment, that shouldn’t be the case. Criticism means somebody cares enough to tell you, meaning they want to see you doing better. The worst thing is when people no longer say anything but just discuss how useless you are with the rest of the team. You seriously don’t want that, so be prepared to listen to what they have to say, and learn from it.

The individual team member

In a team, there’s always the danger of having your ideas smothered by ‘greater ideas’ or simply just your fear depriving you to come alive in that brainstorm or strategy session. Understand your contribution in the grand scheme of things and then decide whether to add your two cents or cap that over-zealousness that might be barring you from listening to better and more workable ideas.

In a group, there are a few dynamics to consider: egos, good advice versus bad advice, or your own reservations, big headedness or maybe lack of ideas. The best thing is to listen, observe and see how the collective effort factors in to the success of the actual initiative.

When I came to WE four months ago, the main idea was to come in to whatever account I was assigned to and come up with the best ideas, execute them and take the lead as soon as possible. What I failed to consider was that the reason WE is on such a great path is because it already has a team of excellent individual creatives and strategists, but the fact that we pull together and are willing to do whatever task assigned to us is why WE is winning.

Inno Dlamini is a graduate trainee at WE South Africa


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