Choosing team members is something we do all the time. Starting from the playground all the way through our lives, we make the decision to who to work with which have influence in our individual and collective successes. At the playground, the decision is easy to make, but as the complexity of the task increases, the more difficult decision-making gets.

I am studying International Trade in Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. As any university student, I am required to participate in many different team projects. Working in a team is both rewarding but challenging at the same time. Choosing your team members right is a key to succeeding in any team project.

Last semester, I took a Marketing Class, where we had to make a team project consisting of presentations and research throughout the course. In the first class, we were required to team up and I chose to team up with some of my good friends. We encountered a lot of situations in which we had hard times reaching an agreement or making decisions. I believe that decision-making difficulties are normal in any team, but as I found out, working with friends meant that evading responsibilities became even easier. We ended up fighting and being less understanding and comprehensive towards each other. We faced multiple situations, where highly skilled individuals didn’t know how to work together and their individuality became a problem.

Along the year, I realized that being good friends doesn’t necessary mean that working in a team will be easy. Instead,

  • we need to be ready to work hard in order for the team to succeed and 
  • perhaps be wiser in choosing the team members.

I learned this lesson the hard way. My assumption on choosing friends as the best option closed the door an opportunity of a more diverse and better working experience.

Hardships in choosing teammates in my personal experience are:

  • Not branching out/sticking to our comfort zones. This left me to stick with the “safe pick” and didn’t allow me to diversify and consider my options.
  • Assuming that high skills will translate into high performance. Having highly skilled individuals in the team doesn’t immediately mean that they will be able to perform in a team setting and contribute to the team.
  • Strong personalities tend to crash. Working with a lot of natural leaders is hard because they tend to fight and have conflicts.

My recommendations to choosing team project members,

  • Visualize all possible candidates, not just the ones you feel comfortable with
  • Be open-minded
  • Analyze the information you have about the task. Then look at the talent pool and build your team using the strong points of each individual and the information in hand.
  • No team member is initially bad, teams just need to find ways to work together
  • But personally, I believe that using your gut is also a good option!

Diversifying the team environment can be enriching, bring more efficiency and higher quality of the teamwork and therefore bring better results!

Guillermo Liu

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