Teamwork: The Password of the '90sBy: Dr. Marilyn Manning
Scan the headlines in the business section of practically any newspaper and you're sure to run across an article or two on teamwork. Teamwork is definitely the password of the business world in the 1990's. What impact does this have on you? Office support professionals are being urged to play a more active role on the management team. How? By becoming more adept in such areas as decision making, problem solving, and project planning.
But you can't just jump right in and expect to automatically exercise skills in these areas. First, you must establish yourself as an excellent support person for the team, states Marilyn Manning of Mountain View, California. "And at the same time, you must demonstrate how your expanded role will benefit your boss", adds Manning, who holds a Ph.D. in organizational psychology.
Manning recommends taking these five steps to lay the groundwork for expanding your team role.
Volunteer to organize team meetings. Prove your value by smoothly handling all the important details, from arranging a meeting date that's compatible with all the attendees' schedules, to scheduling the room, to organizing a meeting topic file for your boss. Your efforts will illustrate your competence to team members and give you valuable experience as well, says Manning.
Offer to develop the meeting agenda. "Organizing information for the agenda will require input from team members, so you'll have an excellent opportunity to f amiliarize yourself with their personalities and views", Manning says.
Express interest in attending meetings. Suggest ways you can be helpful; you might offer to follow up on decisions made at the meeting, for example. "Remember, when you demonstrate how you can make your boss' job easier, you take a giant step toward becoming involved in the decision-making process," Manning maintains.
Be observant of each team member's personal style. Study group dynamics as well. Determine how the team makes decisions, for example. Do a couple of people with dominant personalities basically direct the group? What steps would you take to fit in with the group if you were invited to attend the next meeting?
Join committees. Working on particular phases of group projects will help you hone your decision-making skills. "Once you're on a committee, you can initiate focus groups to resolve problems and evaluate issues, and then provide reports to the committee," Manning notes.
Assess Personal Styles. "Tune in to the strengths and weaknesses of team members," Manning advises. Learn to identify the four main personal styles you're likely to encounter on your team: The loyalist, the controller, the cheerleader, and the analyzer.
© Copyright 1995 - 2000 Dr. Marilyn Manning, Ph.D. (reprinted with the permission of Dr. Manning from the "Bureau of Business Practices" Journal)
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