“Are you good at teamwork?”
“Yes, of course”
Who would say something different at a job interview? This question, or something similar, almost always appears when you are talking with people you want to work with at a new company. It’s natural to ask, because almost every project is a team effort, with many people involved: designers, project managers, product owners, customers, users of the product, developers etc. They call it “stakeholders” meaning “people interested in building something together”. Together is the keyword.
You know you should be good at teamwork, but besides some group assignments, I was never trained or even received a lecture about how to be a good team player when I was at college. No one told me about their good or bad experiences. Because, you know, everybody is good at collaboration. With other humans, without problems, it’s common sense. Next lie, please.
The reality is that every person is different. Everyone has problems, agendas, needs. Working with people is hard. Common sense or not.
And after a few years flying solo, it’s not easy to integrate into a team again. Not because I’m a bad person, who mocks people, bully coworkers, eat their lunch when they’re in a meeting or install Windows on their Mac computers.
It’s because I wanted to do it all on my own.
I want to learn, in fact, I love to learn. Sometimes I want to learn too much, from many different subjects. As a person, I’m curious by nature. So I want to learn how to use Sketch properly to be able to look at the designs, or even change them if needed. I want to code the intricacies of multi-threaded network requests or fight UI/UX to get a much better product. I want neat commit messages and clean bug reports. And if I’m not doing any of these, if any of my peers is doing it instead, I feel like I’m losing something. That I’m not learning that part. That I should be able to do my part and all other parts, because I have this unrealistic idea of learning everything.
I want to be the goalkeeper, the striker, the trainer, the people watching the match and the person selling beverages.
Since joining Mobile Jazz, I have had to re-discover the skills needed when working as part of a team. To realise that you have to trust your peers and they need to trust you. At first, I tried to impress my coworkers with my (not so good) coding skills. Clean code and unit test everything. This took a lot of time because I wanted to learn everything make it all flawless. The result: poor performance, high anxiety. It’s better to just work on the part of the project everyone has agreed you’ll solve best, and then solve it on time. To do your part and give trust back to your team. This is will also make your customer happy and make you feel better.
So if you feel that everyone in your team is not doing a great job, you have “let me fix this” moments, if you want to impress people or don’t feel trustworthy, maybe you suck at teamwork.
And you’re not alone: it’s hard, so keep trying.
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