TribLIVE

| Business


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Teams have their challenges

About The Tribune-Review
The Tribune-Review can be reached via e-mail or at 412-321-6460.
Contact Us | Video | Photo Reprints

By The Tribune-Review

Published: Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

If you think workplace teams are a great idea but would be thrilled if you weren't on one again in your lifetime, you're not alone.

According to a new University of Phoenix survey, 95 percent of respondents say teams serve an important purpose, but only 24 percent prefer to work that way. Younger workers like it even less. Many say they would rather work alone.

“I think the fact that less than a quarter of workers would prefer to work on teams is a pretty shocking statistic, although it doesn't surprise me personally, says Barry Feierstein, chief business operating officer of University of Phoenix. “Teams are hard.”

Different generations, agendas and personality types thrown together creates tension, Feierstein says.

Another problem: Team members may resent being put on teams that add to their workload or force them to work closely with people they would rather avoid.

The survey also finds some of the other reasons that contribute to the negative feelings about teams:

• Gossip.

• Passing the buck.

• Disagreements that turn physical. (Believe it or not, 15 percent have reported that problem.)

Feierstein says he has never been on a team where a confrontation turned physical although he's seen “staplers and books sent flying through the air,” so it could be respondents were judging such interactions as physical.

The University of Phoenix integrates teamwork and collaboration into its curriculum because officials there believe those skills need to be developed before students enter the workplace, he says.

This may be a more important skill than ever because the students have grown up communicating with technology, one-on-one cellphone texting, online with Facebook friends or tweets to the world. In other words, students may have more difficulty working face to face on teams, he says.

“It used to be that you interfaced with friends on the phone or by meeting them face to face,” he says. “You learned to listen to the tone and have empathy for what they were saying. But now, because of technology, collaboration has become more sterile. Personalities are not able to come across, and you can't pick up on nonverbal body language.”

That's why Feierstein says the survey should be used as a call to action.

“For me personally, it will make me more aware that when I'm on a team most of the other people in the room don't want to be there,” he says. “That's something as a leader I need to acknowledge and deal with.”

Team members need to know that the leaders understand their lack of excitement, “but that we will win or die as a team.”

Anyone who continues to express negativity should be reminded that such bad attitudes won't be tolerated, he says.

Team members can help make the experience more pleasant.

“If I were a more junior member, I would view it as a chance to build awareness of myself, as a way to build my network and to show other people my skill set,” he says. “You can learn a lot if you go into it with a positive attitude ... that will help you be more effective.”

Anita Bruzzese is author of “45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy ... and How to Avoid Them.” Write her in care of USA Today/Gannett, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, VA 22108. For a reply, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Business Headlines

  1. Mastech Holdings records 51 percent profit jump in 1st quarter
  2. Corbett: Coal is working
  3. Young visionaries at PieceMaker Technologies Inc. see future in 3-D
  4. Drugmakers ready to carve out deals any way they can
  5. PNC’s CEO elected board chairman
  6. ATI takes 1st-quarter loss, but says outlook is good
  7. Tesla delivers  1st cars in China
  8. BNY Mellon notches $661M profit in 1st quarter
  9. McDonald’s profit slips amid weak sales
  10. ‘Old GM’ defense expected in court fight over faulty ignition switch
  11. AT&T joins crowded field with online video plans
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.