As we enter the final week of Plus3 Global Projects, it is hard to believe how far my team, Students United, has come. As with any experience meeting new people, our first team meeting was filled with awkward silences. This was amplified by the virtual setting of Zoom, where hiding is as easy as clicking the “Stop Video” button. During the first week, we did not really click as a team, which worried me a bit for the rest of the program. Things started to change during the second week where after every meeting, we all seemed to be on the same page. Our teamwork improved as we began regularly turning our cameras on and not being afraid to share ideas with each other. I would say that this week was when we completely overcame the virtual elements and had a meeting that felt like an in-person conversation with friends. Yesterday, we had a thirty-minute conversation not just about our presentation, but also about our personal college experiences. We laughed together and learned new things about what shaped our personal business knowledge and outlook on the world. Though Zoom was an obstacle to team connection at the beginning of this program, it became an asset in the form of fun conversations that built our team dynamic.
This gradual relationship building also exhibits how our team trust formed. As you trust someone more, you feel more comfortable sharing parts of your life with them. I believe that our team has reached the point where we trust each other in multiple ways. The main way that this happened is task-based. I personally have a hard time trusting someone if they have not shown me that they can stick to their word. In a virtual experience like this, the best way to exhibit trustworthiness is through your work. Since the beginning of this program, my team has followed through on everything. Whether this be attending meetings outside of class or completing our sections of the work, we proved our ability to stick to our word. This is the basis of why I now trust my teammates, and I believe why they trust me. Also, I have noticed that we all feel more comfortable sharing personal information with each other. I know much more about my team now than I did two weeks ago, and they know more about me.
A large positive of this virtual experience is the ease and availability of Zoom. It is so convenient to send out a Zoom meeting link and then be chatting two minutes later. This also benefitted the team-building process. We had a large amount of meetings outside of class to discuss our thoughts and establish what needs to be done. I believe this extra time was very important to the progression of our project. Because we spent a lot of time on Zoom calls during the first week and a half, we developed the ability to have very productive meetings in short periods of time. What could end up taking thirty minutes to discuss only takes us about ten to fifteen. This is a product of our team relationship. We value each other and our time, and since establishing the base of our project, we are all on the same page. Also, if sections end up being incorrect and need editing, we trust that we will all show up to a new meeting outside of class to resolve any issues. Reliability is a huge part of our team culture because we placed value on it early on in the program.
Building client trust is a different process. My team has discussed over and over what we think is most important with this presentation: how Senior Concierge feels. People like when they feel heard and understood, so we have been focusing on giving Senior Concierge exactly what they want and need. In our meeting with the company, we placed emphasis on starting conversations with the company representatives in order to have them open up to us more. Our train of thought was that if Marcia, the CEO, knew that we really wanted to understand her and receive feedback, then she would enjoy speaking with us more. As I said in the last paragraph, I believe that feeling more comfortable with people is correlated with trusting them. One other key moment in our meeting that built trust with the client was in regards to our research. After presenting our thoughts on their issues and possible solutions, the representatives seemed skeptical. We were asked what made us think this way, which felt like a nicer way of saying “Why should I listen to you? What background do you have that validifies your opinion?” Luckily, we were perfectly prepared for this question. We had gone out of our way to be proactive with research, which gave us a basis for everything we said. When we said that we had an early meeting with SpinCare, the company we were evaluating for Senior Concierge, it felt like Marcia was impressed. Because we had prepared, it led to a better impression on Marcia and a better client relationship. By the end of our meeting, my team felt excited that the company representatives seemed to trust us and what we were saying, because if this trust is built now it provides a better opportunity for trust in the final presentation.
Because of the trusting relationship that my team has built, advocacy for our recommendations has not been an issue. We trust each others’ opinions and always let members explain any ideas they have and discuss how this would fit into the presentation. An important point to remember when advocating for your own recommendations and ideas is that other people are just as passionate as you. For me, it circles back to the golden rule of “treat others like you want to be treated”. When we are open to hearing each other advocate for our ideas, it can lead us to have eureka moments that could better our presentation. I think that a lot of the best ideas form as a result of hearing other ideas, evaluating them, and either coming up with ways to strengthen them or creating entirely new and better ideas. The current culture within Students United is pretty positive and open-minded, which is why we all feel comfortable presenting out-of-the-box perspectives.
With this being said, it helps that our team is usually on the same page. When one of us is thinking something and brings it up in a meeting, chances are that one of us says they were thinking the exact same thing. I do not know exactly how we manage to do this, but I think it is the fact that we discussed so many ideas during the second week. We went through so many thought processes that ended up not clicking that we learned how we all thought in regards to this presentation. This is why we feel so confident advocating for our recommendations. When I think of an idea, I know that my team probably thought of it too, it is just a matter of who says it first. In instances where we are not thinking the same thing, I still know that anything I say will either be met with constructive criticism and suggestions to build upon what I said, or a very nice and respectful “no” from my teammates if the recommendation is not beneficial.
Moving forward into next week, I am very excited to finalize the details of the presentation with my teammates. We are confident in where we are right now, and want to spend this last week building our relationship more while making the necessary changes before Thursday. I genuinely enjoy the time I spend with my team and am sad that this program will be ending soon. Hopefully, this last week does not fly by like the past three did.