When you have the opportunity to select your team partners, you need to approach the selection very differently than what may be your normal approach.
There are generally four types of persons who can make up a team:
- A dominant, forceful person (LEADER) – These are classmates who want to be in charge. They are driven to get the project done. They aren’t especially talkative, but they don’t hold back when someone isn’t contributing. They have little tolerance for those who waste time during team meetings. You need one and only one person with this background on your team.
- A social, outgoing person (SOCIALIZER) – These are people who never met a stranger. They like to talk, and they frequently lose focus on the social side of working with others rather than the deliverables needed by the project. These people are very good at smoothing over team conflicts. They are also good at team communications including the final presentation. The team needs one and only one person with this background on the team. More than one of these types can lead to a lot of wasted time.
- A dependable, solid, hard working person (CONTRIBUTOR) – These are people who aren’t flashy, but they are disciplined and rarely disappoint on assignments. Contributors aren’t confident in leadership positions, but they are the ones who do most of the actual project work. You will want as many CONTRIBUTORS on your team as possible.
- A person who is anal about making sure the project requirements are met (CHECKER) – Checkers are very cautious. They are very dependable and will do whatever is asked. They are not especially creative and can be reluctant to step outside of a standard approach. Every project teams to have one checker, but probably not more than one.
Students tend to join with students who are like them. As you can see, this may lead to a dysfunctional team.
What do you do if your teammates are assigned to you? What you should do in this case is to review the four types of persons described above with your teammates. Ask each person to identify the description that best describes him/her. Should there be a potential problem (2 or more Leaders, 2 or more Socializers, 2 or more Checkers), ask which team member would like to be the main contributor in each of these categories. The other team members will need to adjust their usual approach.
Understanding the category that best describes you can help you appreciate the role that you can best play on a team..