Teamwork, it’s not rocket science…or is it?

(Shared by Kimberly Roush, Program Assistant, Ohio Cooperative Development Center and Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

Posted to the Ohio State University Extension-Community Development Blog
on September 11, 2014 at 10:13am
by author Becky Nesbitt, OSU Extension CD, Assistant Professor & Extension Educator (Ohio Valley EERA)

Have you ever noticed that when we want to illustrate how easy something is, we compare it to rocket science or brain surgery? Ok, it requires years of advanced educational study and hundreds of hours of technical experience to master aerospace engineering or neurological surgery. But, truthfully, the average person will never need to become adept at either of these disciplines. Effectively working on a team and getting along with others – those are skills that are necessary for everyone. Unfortunately, embracing the abilities needed to be a good team member and build relationships with others is not always easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult – kind of like rocket science…or brain surgery.

ScreenHunter_747 May. 26 20.30In a 2004 article in the journal Psychological Science, J. Richard Hackman contends that effective team members are people who possess the emotional maturity needed for their roles with their teammates. His research shows that fostering emotional maturity is essential; however, it is a trait that tends to be developmental in nature and cannot be readily taught. Well, you’ll get no argument here. In fact, while many institutions of higher learning offer degrees in neurology or engineering, we’ve yet to see a university that offers a degree in emotional maturity.

So what are those elusive (for some folks, anyway) skills that demonstrate emotional maturity, thus enabling a person to be a good team member? Here’s a list of our top three essential teammate traits:

    Trust – Let’s face it, trust is the foundation of all relationships. Whether it’s with your spouse, your friends, your coworkers or your hair stylist, if you don’t trust the person, you’re not going to be willing to take the risk of being open, honest, and well, trusting. For a good team to work, we need to be able to count on each other. Building trust takes time – and dare we say, it also helps to have face-to-face interactions now and then. Social media and Skype are wonderful tools to keep in touch, but there’s just something about breathing the same air as someone else, and actually spending time interacting together at the very same GPS coordinate that helps to build a strong, reality-based relationship that goes beyond cute photos and 140 characters of type.

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