Monday, June 17, 2013

Playing well with others

I hated group work in school and in college. I hated the fact that I seemed to get grouped up with a bunch of people who were either clueless or incompetent, or worse, they outright wanted to team up with me because they figured they could coast while I busted my ass to get my/our A. Funny that I now work in a profession that is nothing but teamwork. There's a design team in my office, consisting of landscape architects, interior designers, planners, exterior designers and architects, and project managers. There's a full design team outside my office, consisting of various engineers and other consultants. There's a team of clients and users that we have to work with to get the project designed. And then there's a team of contractors and subcontractors who actually use my drawings to build the stuff the client asked for and we drew.

When teams work, it's beyond awesome; but when they don't work...oh, dear God in heaven, make the pain stop. A few things to remember when working on a design team,with other architects, designers, and engineers:
  • It's inevitable that we're going to be on teams, and we need to make the teams work as best as we can. Ignoring or just not engaging with your colleagues isn't going to make the project better, and it isn't going to make them go away. Talk design ideas, details, and plan ideas through with one another. Even if you think their ideas are crappy or not well thought out, everyone needs a chance to engage and be heard. Giving them the courtesy of listening earns you your right to be heard.
  • Err on the side of asking too many questions. You never know when something you're doing is affecting other parts of the team (especially the engineers) in a huge way. Let folks know when you're making changes or need to change or fix something.
  • Sometimes you'll be the one willing to work with others and talk things through and others will be the ones not wanting to engage. It will be incumbent upon you to make the dialogue happen. If your teammates are giving you the Heisman arm and won't meet with you, or the engineers or other consultants are being unresponsive, ask your project manager and/or other managers in the office to help you get a response or get everyone together. Explain to them the consequences of not coordinating or having the conversation you're asking for.
Teamwork isn't always a blast, but you can actually make it better by making it happen. This kind of gesture can let your managers see you as a leader and as someone who thinks ahead, which might give you more autonomy and more/cooler responsibilities in the future

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