As I write this, my beloved and I are in the final stages of prepping for a 6-week trip to Europe. There’s a lot that goes into planning a trip like this, and whenever we travel together I send up several prayers of thanks that I don’t have to do it alone. Oh, I’ve travelled alone many times over the years and have been very comfortable doing so – but organizing a trip is just so much easier and more pleasant when I can split the work with someone else whose interests and skills complement mine. For example, booking flights reduces me to tears, but Avi will cheerfully dig through travel websites for hours to find a flight that is both economical and doesn’t involve multiple stops or 24-hour layovers in boring airports. He has the same facility for booking car rentals, which I wouldn’t even touch because the very thought of driving unknown roads gives me the vapours, while he delights in slaloming along curvy one-lane country roads with mountains on one side and cliffs on the other.
I, on the other hand, will happily work my way through several pages of Google to find an obscure blog that points me to the perfect non-Expedia/non-Booking.com guesthouse or pore through endless Airbnb listings to find the place that offers maximum comfort, convenience and charm for the best price. I’m also the go-to gal for sourcing great places to eat and drink, and am a walking dowsing rod for finding misplaced objects (ask me about the time I found Avi’s hearing aid in a pile of leaves in a park that we’d left a couple of hours earlier and had to find again).
If you haven’t already figured out where this long introduction is leading, I’ll cut to the chase: I’m talking about teamwork. That thing we all talk about but don’t always practise but we should, because good teamwork makes everything better, easier, and more fun. (And hint: if it isn’t good teamwork, it isn’t teamwork at all but something else masquerading as teamwork. If that’s happening in your workplace, we should talk.)
The power of teamwork was brought home to me in a big way over the past year when I was part of the planning team for the Applied Improvisation Network’s 2023 conference, which took place here in Vancouver in July. Anyone who has ever planned an event knows you can’t do it alone, but until you’re actually doing it, you don’t quite realize how much of a team effort it is or how many heads, hearts and hands are needed to make it work. And critically, you need the right combination of people with complementary skills and interests. For example: I’m a whiz at taking minutes, setting up systems, and keeping things organized – but don’t ever ask me to be in charge of anything to do with money! Fortunately, someone else on the team was good at that and was willing and able to take on the mantle of treasurer. That same person would have bombed at social media – but guess what? Another team member did that with verve and élan! And so on and so forth. Each person took on what they were good at and interested in (with most of us filling multiple roles), and as the conference drew nearer we all pitched in wherever we were needed and able, and pulled together to create what many participants described as a seamless experience.
As it happens, I’ve always loved working (and playing) as part of a team. Probably because for me (you’ve heard me say this before), everything boils down to relationships, and teamwork is all about relationships. Working closely together toward a shared goal can build a sense of camaraderie that extends well beyond the project at hand and can even bloom into real friendships. But even if it doesn’t go that far, it contributes to a happier and healthier work environment – which, for the record, equals a more productive and successful work environment. (You’ve heard me say that before too!)
What else do you get from great teamwork? I’m glad you asked! How’s this for starters:
- Diverse perspectives: As we learned from our conference experience, teamwork taps into a wealth of perspectives. Each team member brings their unique skills, experiences, and ideas to the table, leading to a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts.
- Enhanced creativity: Teamwork gives us a chance to let our creativity run wild, feed off each other’s energy and ideas, and watch as our collective imagination takes shape. This helps us generate innovative solutions we could never have come up with on our own.
- Shared responsibility: Teamwork makes a project more manageable by dividing the workload and delegating responsibilities based on people’s strengths and expertise. This ensures that no single person is overwhelmed by the process (except at 4:00 AM when we all wake up with that sense of Deep Existential Overwhelm no matter what), and that team members are able to focus on what they do best.
- Accountability: Team members hold each other accountable for their tasks and responsibilities. This ensures that everyone is working toward a common goal and meeting deadlines, reducing the chances of last-minute emergencies or oversights. And when those emergencies inevitably occur (hey, I said “reducing”, not “eliminating”!) the team pulls together to pull through.
- Learning opportunities: Teamwork provides opportunities for personal and professional growth, as team members learn from each other, acquire new skills, and gain valuable experience that can benefit future endeavours.
- Fun: Can we just say it? When a team is working well together, it’s just plain fun! Sure, there are moments when you want to strangle each other (kind of like in any relationship) – but these are far outweighed by moments of giddy laughter, delightful discoveries, celebration, and the shared memories the team members create together.
And now I’m off to do my share of the final planning, prepping, and packing for our big trip. Any blog posts I write between now and November will be travel stories. No guarantees – I might be too immersed in the experience to feel like writing about it – but I’ve set up a travel blog just in case. Feel free to follow along at https://avrilabroad.travellerspoint.com. In the meantime, bonne rentrée, shana tova … and see you in November when I’m back at my desk!