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Susquehanna Life

Whitney Answers Some Teambuilding Questions

Dec 09, 2016 08:45PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

1. How is the ability to work on a team ranked among employers when compared to other soft skills like communication and diligence?

Employers value soft skills across the board – teamwork speaks to a range of other skills like empathetic listening, leadership and followership, knowing how to prioritize tasks and delegate responsibilities, etc. Teamwork isn’t separate from communication or diligence – they’re all evidence of a well-rounded employee (or a signal that a less-attuned employee may need some additional coaching).


2. What about when compared to being able to work independently?

Being a valuable member of a team shouldn’t compete with an individual’s ability to work independently – they’re almost two entirely different skillsets. Teamwork means the ability to be self-aware, know when and how to contribute strengths to a group, and understand a group dynamic enough to both engage in it and still be able step back and think about it. Working independently means managing time and individual strengths well, selecting tasks that can be accomplished successfully, and being willing to seek out resources when you don’t have them yourself.


3. Many employers have professional development seminars or days devoted to improving professional skills. Is teamwork ever among those skills, and would something like the Fantasy Escape Room in Lewisburg be an asset to employers?

The Fantasy Escape Room is a great way for a team to understand its own dynamic – it might even be helpful to have an outside, unbiased observer there to watch group interactions and report back on behaviors that people might miss or forget about in the heat of the activity. Many companies do the same.


4. How do you think team-building exercises such as the Lewisburg Escape Room or ropes courses affect people as individuals and as a group?

Teambuilding exercises let a group experience a “heat of the moment” situation in a low-stakes setting – whether or not the team solves the puzzle doesn’t ultimately matter, but then they can talk through their choices, actions, disagreements, and strengths after the exercise is over.


5. On a similar note, do you think two groups who do the same teambuilding activities can have different results? Why/why not?

Two groups can absolutely have different results – and the same group can have different results on different days. So much of working on a team is the people-factor – how is everyone’s day going, how are they feeling, what communication was spoken verbally versus non-verbally and how was it interpreted, etc?


6. The phrase “well-oiled machine” comes to mind. Is there a such a thing as being “too good” of a team? Could that be dangerous or threatening to a company or career?

One way that a team might be too “well-oiled” is when they get comfortable – if they’ve been operating as a unit for a while with no new members or goals. Once a team starts to feel stagnant or less motivated because “we’ve won before,” they run the risk of not being innovative or open to new opportunities (or even team members).


7. Is there ever a point where it becomes more difficult to instill a sense of team spirit into an employee? Conversely, is it ever too late for a person job searching to improve their teamwork skills?

It’s never too late to become a better team player, but it does become more challenging as we age because we begin to specialize our skillsets and focus on the tasks at hand rather than the people. Sometimes we can get lost in the jargon of our careers – do you know this computer program, do you understand this sales concept? – and forget that these are learnable concepts, but that abilities like listening, communicating well, and inspiring others follow us from career path to career path.


8. Have you ever participated in team-building exercises? How did they affect you?

I have fallen off many a ropes course in my day, and while it was personally embarrassing for me, I think it helped me realize that I could show weakness to others on my team and not lose their respect in the process.


9. From a career standpoint, is there a job out there for someone who just can’t stand other people or working with them?

Honestly, no. Every job has a reporting structure, and even if you spend the majority of your day alone, you still have an audience or customer base to connect with. Ultimately, people drive every industry.


10. What would be your advice to an employer or a potential employee looking to improve teamwork skills?

Practice, practice, practice. Put yourself in team-oriented situations in class, volunteer projects, etc. – these will give you stories to tell in your interviews about how you’ve handled team situations in the past, which is exactly what employers will be asking!

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