"The heart of most jobs, especially the higher-paying more interesting
jobs, is teamwork. Teamwork involves getting others to cooperate, leading
others, coping with complex power and influence issues, and helping solve
people's problems in working with each other. Teamwork involves
communication, effective coordination, and divisions of labor."
(D.Johnson, R. Johnson, and K. Smith. 1991. Active learning:
cooperation in the college classroom. Interaction Book Company,
Eight behaviors associated with effective teamwork:
- Collective Decision Making. In effective teams, decisions are
discussed and agreed to by all. In less effective teams, one person
strongly asserts a position and others do not object verbally, even though
their opinions differ.
- Collaboration/Interchangeability. On effective teams, members
whatever is needed to get the job done. They are not afraid to tackle
unfamiliar tasks in areas outside their expertise. On less effective
members work independently and do not do work outside their area.
- Appreciation of Conflicts/Differences. Productive teams expect
conflict and disagreement. They openly discuss their differences and see
them as means to improved decision making. Less productive teams work to
avoid conflict, preferring instead a superficial kind of agreement that
results when issues haven't been tackled substantively.
- Balance of Participation. Effective teams recognize that
do have other demands on their time, and as a group they are willing to
a member who may for a time need to decrease the amount of effort devoted
the team. This is different than what happens on ineffective teams, in
which one or two members do more than their fair share of the work, resent
it, but never confront members who do not contribute what they should to
- Focus. Good teams keep their ultimate goals and objectives in
mind. If they fall behind, everyone pitches in to help the group get back
on schedule. Teams run into trouble when they do not partition their time
well and, having spent way too much time on early tasks, have no time left
for the final push. In those teams, everyone notices the group's error,
no one is willing to raise the issue or offer helpful solutions.
- Open Communication. Members on effective teams keep each other
informed. They discuss individual work in progress. They let others know
when they may be late or missing. Lack of communication hampers the
effectiveness of other teams. They work too much on their own and do not
share progress or collaborate on how their individual work relates to and
fits with what others are doing.
- Mutual Support. On good teams, members support each other and
verbally let that support be known. They compliment one another on work
well done and publicly thank others who have contributed to the group's
success. On poor teams, the focus is on individual work, with little
awareness, interest, or appreciation of what others in the group are
- Team Spirit. Effective teams develop pride and loyalty in
group. They stand up for the group and speak positively about it. When
teams aren't working well, members feel no commitment to the team and may
even see the group as an impediment to accomplishment of individual
Adapted from: Panitz, Beth (December 1997). Team players. ASEE
Reprinted from: The Teaching Professor 12(3):6.