Building Relationships and Interacting Internally
The best teams are made up of people who have different abilities, outlooks, and experiences. Collaborating with people who have different backgrounds will bring a new perspective to the workplace. New ways of problem-solving are critical to the broader picture of Extension agents working with clientele. If we do the same events and never change our schedules we are in danger of becoming sedentary or even lazy.
So we know that individual differences make for great teams, but those same differences can also bring stress. Developing good relationships with colleagues is important for success in the workplace. Co-workers often spend more time together than with individual family members. Sharing a workplace mission requires that staff members also present a unified and professional front with customers and clients.
An interesting case study on successful teamwork was conducted at Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia. The researchers wanted to identify critical attributes that were necessary for success. Open communication and positive feedback were identified as a key. However, the attribute that resounded the loudest was a commitment to team processes, leadership, and accountability.
Key points from the Edith Cowan University study are important to explore:
- Structure in the workplace is important.
- Team members are responsible for their share of the work.
- General decisions should be made by the group.
- Experiment with new ways to work effectively.
- Be open to change.
- Take action to solve problems without waiting for direction.
- The team should monitor progress. Give feedback.
Communication skills are important. Good communication as a staff is valuable, but communicating the same message to clientele is vital. Everyone in the workplace should share the same message and consistently meet the needs of the community together. If staff members are tearing down each other, gossiping, complaining about the organization, or spreading conflict, the entire staff will suffer.
Instead, ask yourself, are my colleagues important? Is our shared mission important? If colleagues want success they will learn to work together and hold each other accountable. Be approachable! Be a person who will listen and give advice when asked. Engaging in gossip will bring distrust and cause turmoil. Avoid conflict and be willing to go the distance to support the work of the organization. Avoid complaining about the organization, it tears down morale and prevents positive vibes from growing.
Have a problem with a coworker? Speak directly with them and build rapport with them. It’s even fine to let the person know concerns or to ask hard questions. Get to know the person. Try to find common ground; same interests, hobbies, successful experiences. Working for the same organization provides common ground and that may be a starting place.
Regardless of our differences, we are unified by our common mission of working to build stronger families and communities through our organization. Search for ways to communicate to grow as a staff. The entire community will benefit in the end.