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Does Teamwork Really Work?

Popularity 5Viewed 8074 times 2014-11-30 22:32 |Personal category:思考|System category:Others| Teamwork

Teamwork is "work done by several associates with each doing a part but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole" according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary online. Nowadays, teamwork and cooperation seems to be advocated in many fields especially when a relatively large project falls down. On a high level, several countries and regions cooperate with each other to address issues together, for example, the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) meeting aiming to stimulate regional economic growth that just passed by. From a micro perspective, teamwork is shown in various sectors within companies such as public relations companies and accounting firms where the work is subdivided into small links for achieving the set goal.


Similarly, students in universities nowadays are also involved in all kinds of teamwork. Different from the traditional cramming education, today, students are encouraged to do research in the form of a group after class and give presentations to the remaining students in class on the topic which the teacher is going to further talk about. Influenced by the west, universities in China these days welcome and promote this kind of education means, and some even name it “reversed classroom” where the students become the dominant player while the teacher assists.


Undoubtedly, teamwork among students could enhance friendship and mutual learning so as to make progress together; meanwhile, giving presentations over and over again before the teacher and other students could help conquer shyness and exercise students into good public speakers, which definitely will be beneficial for college students before stepping into the society. However, teamwork may not meet all of the teachers’ expectations.


First, team sometimes is not made up out of students’ own willing, i.e., the teacher orders randomly. If students who do not know each other are shy, lazy, irresponsible or busy with other things, then the cooperation will not be conducted smoothly. At last, to fulfill requirement, students who are relatively responsible finish the heavy work alone in low spirit while others stand by. However, even if they are allowed to make up a team by themselves, students who are in good relationship will form a team while others are left out. For example, “good” students for fear of being lagged behind naturally come together, refusing to receive students with low scores who however just need help.


Second, supposing the team consists of all excellent and strong-minded students whose ideas are always accepted, teamwork may also not be able to work. Because each person insists on his own idea and is unwilling to make a compromise. At this time, without a person mediating, the heated debate may damage the relationship, more seriously leading to a fight; in another case, for keeping peace and harmony, those excellent students may pass the buck to each other. To make it worse, internal conflicts are made owing to jealousy, and someone who does not contribute too much scramble for the credit and merit with the biggest contributor in the shade.


Third, students’ teamwork would be a right excuse for those irresponsible teachers to search breaks and ease who can spare time and energy. Meanwhile, intense presentations would add up to students’ burden and turn out to be meaningless given that students make presentations on the platform while others sitting down pay no attention but do anything else. Consequently, tired of making presentations over and over again, students lose passion for teamwork and begin to muddle through it, making division of work formalistic.


Not limited to students preparing for presentations in classroom, teamwork failure may also be common in working and business activities where things involving profits become much more complicated. But the effectiveness and efficiency of teamwork cannot be denied just because of potential bad effects. As long as the team is built up and managed scientifically, teamwork will at last realize the goal successfully. To further discuss, here need considerate and responsible teammates together with a team leader good at mediating and encouraging. In this regard, everyone plays a part to his strength and forms a high-efficient team.  

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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