When You Have a Team

My first idea of team came from sports. A few classmates who good at basketball or football gathered in the field to play against another class of students. We practiced, contributed, and had fun together. We consider each other more as friends than teammates. The team is part of the fun moment as we grown up.

Then we form teams to in order to complete different project assignments in university. We discussed ideas and present demo together. But the teams was either formed by random assignment or to fulfill the minimum head count requirements. Most of the work was done by a few As student, while the rest only cared to put their names into the final report. The team is a form for As student to practice what they learned in lecture and Cs student to pass their final exam.

After that, we joined working groups in corporate. Teams were formed based on functions or managers. We share common tasks and a common goal to complete them. We distribute information in order to separate responsibility and increase accountability. Teams often seated together and gathered afterwork to celebrate some events. In many cases, we also form cross functional teams for bigger projects. Ideas need to be discussed, knowledge need to be shared, agreement and compromise need to be achieved, decisions need to be made together. These teams can often be quite productive as we keep our communication professional and recorded.

The only thing I often feel missing is trust between members in such teams. I will trust my teammates expertise and skills, but I seldom feel, or rather expect, my teammates will behave on behalf of my best interest. I maybe wrong, or too suspicious, or simply ignored the good will from my them. But the fact that everyone stressed what ever arrangements that have been discussed and agreed must be recorded in minutes and broadcasted simply kills any minimum expectation I would have. The team is email lists and meeting attendant lists.

While everybody agrees team is such an important form for us to achieve anything significant, I often confused by those replacement of teams I experienced. Until recently, when I manage to link this word with a comic book and an online novel, I realized I am part of a “team” now.

On the Christmas, while others are celebrating and enjoying their gatherings. I carried my bag into our shared office. The campus was quite. I worked effectively until noon. While I was quite satisfied with the progress, I start to feel a bit lonely. I realized I haven’t talked since last evening after I ordered my dinner. It wasn’t a big deal for me in normal days as I spent a few weekend the same way while my wife was on business trip. I prefer working on my own projects or taking a few online courses to going out and chit-chat with friends.

However, the subtle feeling started to grow and I became unrested in my seat. I could not wave-off the loneliness by taking a nap and watching a few videos. Worse even, I started to have early symptom of  fever in the afternoon. I left office before 5pm, had a quick dinner and fell asleep until the next morning. It was not a bad day in terms of the work I had done. But I realized I could not continue this way.

On the eve of New Year, I took a day off from work and went to the shared office same time in the morning. Different from a few days ago, people started to show up and occupy different corners of the room.  We worked quietly on our own tasks. A few whispering and most commonly key board typing and mouse clicking filled the room. I found myself in a totally different mood after the same effective morning compare to Christmas. I still didn’t talk to anyone the whole morning. But the continuous and rhythmic typing and clicking reminded me that we are working on our target. It reminds me that I am not alone while exploring the unknowns.

At this moment, I realized the difference in this team compare to the rest I have joined. We discuss, document, and share our ideas to make sure we all have a common understanding instead of preventing others default on what they agreed. We work on our own schedule, come into office at our most comfortable time and leave while we are not productive anymore. We don’t have to apply leave and get approval, or fake MC to take one day off. We know others will still find their most productive way to work even if they are not seated in the office. Rather than expecting recognition or reward from my teammates, I am more looking forward the value we can create. I have no questions on my teammates’ intention to make something great by relying on our different skills.

I feel lucky and a great sense of happiness when looking at the crowded space we shared.


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