Putting yourself out there plus the struggles of being in an AWESOME team!

Okay. At first it was not all flowers and love, I can’t lie. But that was until we were still getting to know each other. After that we just learned how to have fun while working. And who can contribute what to the teamwork. Also if there was one thing we all agreed on at the beginning it was that it is not about working hard, but working SMART!

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Meet the team (from left to right): Me, Janja, Conroy and Jorge! 

Starting the course for MACE, it meant we have to take big responsibilities and one of it was to create our business. (click me 🙂 ) You have all heard about “EQUALYTIE” and our mission we spread in the last 6 months. We were fighting against gender inequality in society and we were trying our best to spread the cause as far as possible as we felt really passionate about the topic. However, being in a team with three complete strangers (we did not know each other before the school year started) meant we will come across some character and culture differences. I am from Bulgaria, Janja is Slovenian, Conroy is from the UK and Jorge came all the way from Mexico! You can imagine how hard it was to find common language (and I am not talking about the English we all speak).

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In my previous blog post I guided you through our first CCC class (click on the blue coloured “blog post” above to see what is CCC) and how LEGO helps you to be more creative of a thinker. But I did not mentioned one of the tasks we had and it was to build the highest tower possible… in a team! We had less than a minute to do so and not many LEGO pieces to do a huge one, but the result was still amazing. If this task was given 5 months ago we would probably fail. Knowing the importance of teamwork whatsoever, we knew we had to divide our “tasks”. One was building the bottom, while the others work on the length or middle part and I worked on the top. 15 seconds before the time runs out we would put our separate constructions together. The result was astonishing. Some of you may not be surprised by its size, but knowing what my team went through the last half a year, I think we did really good on this task.

But what did we went through? What was so hard- we had a task and we just had to do it- run a business, that’s it. Why everyone is talking about how teamwork is important and blah-blah. Let me tell you something- it is. And we learned it the hard way.

When you are having struggles you think that everyone around you are getting better and you are just there- stuck! Speaking with our colleagues we find out that some of them were going through the same things as we were. We were not alone! So we all agreed we needed help to manage our teams. But first of all we had to understand the importance of teamwork. For this our course leader helped us a lot and also the CCC classes we started.

Nowadays it is not a secret that the business environment requires teamwork so that people can accomplish something beyond the capabilities of individuals working on their own.

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Dawson, P. & Andriopoulos, C. (2014) Managing change, creativity & innovation.

The inputs in the team are all the necessary things that help drive the ream and its HR overall. Processing, on the other hand, announces the fast changing interactions within the people in the team while they are working amongst achieving the common goal. 

For one of our classes we had an amazing guest lecturer that helped us understand how and why it was so important to learn to manage our teams. This guest was not anyone else but the founder of “Bracket”, the wonderful Alison Coward. She helps lost teams find their way back to the path of success. She engaged us while having us to work in teams and come up with different tasks. One of them was to find our what makes a teamwork effective and what are the challenges when collaborating with other individuals.

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Summarising it all we came up to the conclusion that in a team one of the most important things to have (if not the most important) is to have clear and easy going communication. Graduating my BA degree in Public Relations and working in the field of communications for the past years I know exactly how important communicating is and that it is and forever will be the future main field where major innovations and creative changes will happen. On the other hand what can disturb the good teamwork process can be to a major level the lack of trust.  Realising the importance of this two aspects we must speak it out NOW if we believe there was something wrong in the team we are in. After all managing and leadership is not about you, but about the people you lead!

We also spoke about the importance of individuals in the team. In order to effectively manage other people you have to be fully aware of your own pros and cons! The CEO of IDEO, Tim Brown, often will say in interviews and talks that some of the most important things a great leader should have is open mind, empathy and listening skills. It is of great importance to be humble, regardless how “big” and “important” you are in society. And what fascinates me the most is that these are not only business management lessons, but life lessons that we all struggle in learning on the way to success!

In our team we would often come across self issues that will disrupt the team work. So we decided to work on ourselves as well. Self assessment time! For the last 23 years I have been living with myself there are things I do understand clearly and others I am trying to manage and change in a positive perspective, but I do have some struggles. So what I decided to do is to answer the following questions for myself: What are my strengths and weaknesses? What can I contribute to the project? What do I want to achieve from the project and how do I create the right environment in order to succeed?

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I knew what I was best at- communicating. I was trying to build a bond with each of my team members, to learn about themselves- their fears and dreams. To not be so serious all the time. I knew that we should build trust in our team and we were doing it! We had some struggles when trying to express our ideas. Maybe it was fear of rejection or just not having the ability to adapt because everyone were having so many ideas and we had a time when everything was just a mess. We had to separate the working and strategic ideas from the unnecessary hard ones and we did that with- communication. We talked a lot more and started to meet on “Skype” when we did not have the ability to meet in person. We understand each other’s characters, but one of the most important things we did is separating our tasks towards our abilities.

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While still working on our final touches for our first official product we talked a lot about our team and the difficulties we were facing with each other. We were really frank and often we did not like what we hear but we knew it was for the sake of our business (and the university marks, let’s face it). I noticed that Jorge is really good with his hands and he is more of a “do-er” so we pronounced him as the official producer of our products. He also took care of our stands in the trade fairs we visited. Janja had a solid field of design and being in fashion so she helped a lot with the design of our logo, business cards and flyers. Conroy had a good past of financing so he did all the numbers. Me, considering my communications field, I became responsible for our public image, social media and communications. This helped not only our business and saved us from failing the class, but also we realised a lot about ourselves. I knew I was all about people and PR, but until now I never realised how passionate I am about public imaging and knowing how to make people like you/your company!

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There were “hard times” indeed! 😀 

And the trust came itself. 6 months ahead of time I can proudly announce my team as one of the teams that learned the most throughout the journey! We had some difficulties, we fought our demons, we fought everyone else’s demons and here we are! We are extremely happy with what we did and to be honest I will tell you a secret now… We are thinking weather we should launch our company officially! Still thinking, but we will let you know for sure so stay tuned!

Thank you CCC, thank you Janja, than you MACE for teaching us the importance of others, but mainly- for the importance of our own selves!

See you on my next journey!

 

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