After coming up on the end of the third week of the Plus3 I feel confident in my ability to communicate and work with my team in this virtual environment. But this came with some obstacles to overcome before I was able start completing the case project efficiently and at a level of quality that I was happy with. As a group we overcame these obstacles by taking the time to get to know our team more personally as well as making note of what each member’s strengths and weaknesses. By doing this we now know how to delegate tasks and are able to ensure that our recommendations are not only up to expectations but are able to exceed them. However, this process was not a quick one and it is only now that we are working so efficently.
Build a relationship with individuals with such diverse backgrounds many of which grew up thousands of miles away from you can be a difficult task on its own. But build that relationship virtually adds a whole new challenge. With the program only taking up an hour and a half each morning not much time is spent learning about your groupmates. Most of the valuable time spent in breakout room is spent discussing ideas for the project and determining the direction that we want to move in. This creates a bit of an environment where not everyone is comfortable sharing their ideas as well as creating skepticism on the ideas that are presented because you are not sure how much they know what they are talking about. If that situation were to have continued the project would be much more divided and difficult to work on. Each bullet point would have been more of a battle and the ideas would not be able to flow into each other. This would result in an end recommendation that would have seemed fragmented and rushed instead of a well thought out course of action. Luckily my group naturally started talking to each other more in meetings we would have in our free time.
After most classes we decided it would be good to take a little bit of time out of our busy days just to keep in contact and discuss the project. By doing this we ensured we were always on the same page and since we met so much we began to learn more about each other and our different backgrounds. Conversations began to start happening more naturally and we found ourselves finally talking about things unrelated to the project. Before I knew it I was staying in the meetings later and just talking with my group about what I was up to and it created an environment where we were able to work without feeling forced to. Through schooling in zoom one of the worst feelings was being put into a breakout room with people you do not know and having to complete an assignment. As I learned more about my group I began to see that everyone was beginning to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and this was creating more discussion. I feel as though this discussion is what allowed us to really nail down our main points and ideas in a clear concise manner. But work is not all we talked about.
We often found ourselves asking questions about each other backgrounds and interests. I learned about how it was going to school in Brazil and Peru from someone who was experiencing first hand. This gave valuable insight on what everyone’s lives were like. I learned in Brazil that most colleges do not have on campus housing and students would band together in a huge house where they were all able to learn together. I also learned that in Peru they have a system where you would not live directly on campus but most would commute to school and then go to their homes closer to where they had family or work. The situation for university’s in the United States came as a bit odd. Going to school so far away (5 hours for me) and living on the university for a little over half the year but then going back home to live with family was something out of the ordinary. However, if we had not ended up just taking the time to get to know each other I would have never known how different our school lives are. Now that we are all familiar with each other and have a general idea of what each team members strengths and weaknesses are we laid out a plan for moving forward with our advocacy.
One individual cannot make every decision for a team so it is important that everyone’s ideas are heard and that a consensus is reached before moving on and presenting a recommendation or plan. That is why it is important for every team member to be open to new ideas and take everyone’s views into consideration. But discussing everything can get confusing and it is easy to forget the conclusion of previous discussion which is why we found it incredibly useful to create a process chart. By having a process chart we are not only able to remain on track within our team but it also serves as something that we can show a client and break down to help them see our thought process is requested. The process chart also allows for each member to specialize on a section of the chart so we are well rounded and knowledgeable. This will allow us to be able to answer any question a client might have because even though they have us for new perspectives and ideas they might see something differently. But that is not the only benedit to having roles.
It also helps break up the workload and allows for everyone to work at their own discretion. I for one am someone who likes to work late at night because it is when I am the most focused. But, many people like to get their work done in the day and take the night to relax so it would be difficult for collective work to be the most effective. Each member is also able to work and present a topic that best suits their strengths. For example one member of my team is an accountant so he is very knowledgeable when it comes to financial documents and services. That is why it makes the most sense for his strengths to be utilized when it comes to informing the client on financial matters and by having him deliver that message it allows for our recommendation on that topic to carry more weight. Another example is that I am one of the stronger speakers in our group and have a background in making presentations so I was chosen to deliver our conclusion. This allows for me to quickly hit the key points delivered by other team members and ensure the client knows our stance and leaves with their expectations being exceeded. However it is not fair for each member to have to do all the work on each section which is why it is important for the entire team to have an understanding of the whole project. By having specialist in each section but everyone informed allows for a well rounded presentation without contradictions and a string final recommendation for a client. It would not be possible to deliver that without taking the time to get to know your peers. Working hard to deliver a final product that not only the client is happy with but something you can be proud of as well will create a bond with your new friends and allow for reminiscing once all the work is done.