Collaboration in the Workplace

STORIES

In all honesty, I used to hate working in teams before I transferred to GVSU. My experience in the workplace and at school in Alabama was very different from what I’ve come to expect in my time here. My time at my previous employers always involved picking up slack from freeloaders and people who would miraculously avoid getting caught doing things they really weren’t supposed to be doing. My time in school before GVSU was riddled with doing 90% of “collaborative” projects. My best example of this stems from a Cornerstone of Business class in which I designed and made the presentation and an entire business plan, did all the research, and gave 75% of the presentation while my team members gave the other 25% of it from written cards that I had mercifully made for them.

There are studies that suggest that teamwork may not be all it’s cracked up to be. The older part of myself wants to agree with these results. For example, one study suggests that collaborative efforts have both a negative and positive effect on creativity. In fact, teams seem to be less creative when working together, but do well when expanding on a singular individual’s ideas (Hoegl & Parboteeah, 2007).

I’ve always viewed team collaboration in a hierarchical form. My previous position stems from the fact that if I’m the one delegating tasks, I have an easier time picking up the pieces in an orderly manner if my group members decide to freeload. I find it beneficial to delegate immediately, though, I am never opposed to others delegating instead. I find that when others delegate, I feel like they must feel the same level of responsibility about the outcome of the project that I do.

According to Avery, there are two types of groups—tall and flat. I have learned to prefer the tall, or hierarchical model. Though, Avery states that both models have their pros and cons. The pros and cons of the hierarchical model side with structure but tend to stint creativity. The linear, or flat, model is one that I am becoming more accustomed to as of late. In this model, everyone contributes equally, as there is no real leader. The cons of the linear model include trouble with personal differences. However, this model allows for more creativity from all parties (Avery, 2000).

I don’t loathe collaboration like I used to. Becoming used to working in a more flat model has changed that about me, which is a good thing. Team collaboration in the professional workplace is beneficial for many reasons. Increasing teamwork in the workplace is beneficial for businesses, because it has been proven to be a large factor in decreasing employee absences (Heywood, Jirjahn, & Wei, 2008). Feeling a responsibility about one’s professional work is ideal when considering what type of employment one seeks, and workplaces that implement frequent teamwork help to instill that sense of responsibility to one’s coworkers and reap the benefits of lower rates of absenteeism. Additionally and according to Berg, teamwork is essential to solving new problems in the workplace and for general positive feelings towards everyone in an educational setting (1998). Although, students may have trouble with collaboration due to not knowing their classmates like they would know coworkers and the fact that most students are trying to get through their classes (Berg, 1998).

I agree with Avery, who states that teamwork should be developed as an individual skill. In his article in the Journal for Quality and Participation, he lists ways to ensure team success:

  • Tackle collective tasks and allow space for others to engage.
  • Align interests
  • Establish behavioral ground rules.
  • Honor individuals and their differences.
  • Expect breakthroughs and synergy.
  • Understand responsibility (Avery, 2000)

Responsibility is the cornerstone of team foundations and success. If we all take responsibility for our work and final project outcomes, teamwork becomes much easier and other aspects fall into place.

 

References

Avery, C. M. (2000). How teamwork can be developed as an individual skill. The Journal for Quality and Participation, 23(4), 6-13. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/219159261?accountid=39473

Berge, Z. L. (1998). Differences in teamwork between post-secondary classrooms and the workplace. Education & Training, 40(4), 194-201. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/237065284?accountid=39473

Hoegl, M., & Parboteeah, K. P. (2007). Creativity in innovative projects: How teamwork matters. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 24(1-2), 148–166. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jengtecman.2007.01.008

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New Perspective on Social Media

My Perspective

My initial understanding of social media was simple– “people can share stuff; companies use social media for marketing; and it’s not complicated.” Boy, was I misinformed. I knew there was some science to analytics, for example, but I did not realize what all social media entailed. Not really. “How could I not?,” I told myself when I began this class. “I’m on social media every day. I’ve been on some form of social media for 15 years.”

I was unaware of the fact that 28.3 billion dollars in social media advertising money were predicted to be spent by the end of this year (“Social Network Ad Spending to Hit $23.68 Billion Worldwide in 2015,” 2015).

At the time, I was on Facebook. I was on Facebook with only about 20 friends on a newer account that I created earlier this year. I also had a Pinterest account…with a few pins. I’ve written a few other blogs posts of my own accord on WordPress this year. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot about social media and my stance has changed dramatically.

Twitter was my first real wake-up call. I used to look down on Twitter, as I tend to do with any social media outlet my mother frequents. Despite knowing about Twitter for a long time, I never created an account. Taking the class forced me to. I learned how useful it is for news, product and company updates, and for customer service. Additionally, I had no clue that there were “active chats” on Twitter (though, it sounds stupid of me to have thought otherwise). Now, I would say that it’s impossible for me to look down on Twitter, because I now see it as an indispensable tool.

Although I was fairly familiar with WordPress, I learned about the importance of tagging. I also learned about the importance of mentions and content in relation to SEO.  Although I’ve written a blog and made my own pages and accounts outside of class, I had no idea that Hootsuite even existed. I found myself just nodding along with excitement as I began intuitively scheduling content, “you mean, this sends it for me?” Genius.

I think the biggest shock for me is the importance of building a brand for myself through social media.According to Stroller, many professionals have jumped onto the idea of personal branding because social media presents many opportunities to self-promote (2013). Personal branding is a three (or more) step process that requires continuous learning (Khedher, 2014). Though, again, it sounds stupid of me to have thought that maybe personal branding wouldn’t be important for my future career or that maybe I wouldn’t have to be as meticulous about it.

Ultimately, all of the information I’ve gathered is completely applicable to my future career, and I greatly appreciate that. However, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that fact that what I mostly learned in this class about social media is that I have a lot more to learn about social media. Social media is an ever-present learning process as platforms continue to evolve, become obsolete, and/or are replaced. Social media is fun, but, fundamentally, social media is a tool that I need to master. Continually.

References

Khedher, M. (2014). Personal branding phenomenon. International Journal of Information, Business and Management, 6(2), 29-40. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/1511120777?accountid=39473

Social Network Ad Spending to Hit $23.68 Billion Worldwide in 2015. (2015, April 15). Retrieved November 18, 2015, from http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Social-Network-Ad-Spending-Hit-2368-Billion-Worldwide-2015/1012357

Stoller, E. (2013). Our shared future: Social media leadership vulnerability and digital identity. Journal of College and Character,14(1), 5-10. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/jcc-2013-0002

 

 

 

 

Infographics

Instead of picking a topic I was familiar with for my infographic assignment, I chose to delve into the depths of crime statistics. Since moving into GR proper has been something I’ve been considering over the past year, I took to viewing a crime mapping website–namely, Crimemapping.com.

Compiling my data for this infographic was more of a process than I had originally intended. I tried to acquire the trends from the website, but Microsoft Silverlight would not work. Thus, I strenuously compiled my data through counting and configuring percentages. I know! What was I thinking?

I was thinking that the free icons on all three infographic creation sites were not deserving of my dear grandmother’s pumpkin pie recipe. Moreover, I have also been intrigued by the outdoor GVPD ads I’ve seen on my weekly trips to Grand Rapids.

Nevertheless, infographics are an interesting and engaging way to present information to the public. I enjoyed tooling around with Piktochart.

New Infographic

My Perspective on Social Media

My Personal Experience with Social Media

The first type of social media I ever used was LiveJournal when I was fifteen. Shortly thereafter came Myspace. Looking back, Myspace was a bit of a mess. Being able to find people you haven’t seen in a long time was a newfound feature that everyone had to experience, but because Tinder didn’t exist yet, many people took to finding people on Myspace to romance. Sharing pictures and creating a real internet-you was possible in a way it hadn’t been before, and it was really interesting to see how people marketed themselves—barring glitter graphics and terrible (blaring) music. However, I’m glad people don’t use it much anymore, and I wish Myspace would stop sending me my old pictures in emails. It’s creepy.

Myspace is Creepy

Me in early 2008. Yes, they really do this.

In 2007, my friend invited me to Facebook. I wasn’t affiliated with a university, but invites were then open. I didn’t share much on Facebook for years. I wasn’t an active user until 2008, when the bulk of my family created profiles. In 2009-2011, I used to Facebook to keep up with my friends through my military service. I used chat to talk to cousins and aunts who were many miles away. I deleted my Facebook profile in 2012. Again, in late 2012, I fell pregnant with my son, so my husband and I created a Facebook account for his family to be able to share in our pregnancy updates and, eventually, pictures of my son.

I didn’t create my own profile on Facebook again until the beginning of 2015. Now that I’ve been learning more about social media, I’ve opened accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and even YikYak.

How I Use Social Media

I feel like a bit of an outsider when it comes to my social media usage on a college campus, as I’m a bit older than my peers. Many of the students frequent Snapchat and Twitter and certainly use it much more than I do. Students also tend to use Facebook to share videos in lieu of actual life-updates, which is how I greatly differ from them. I prefer to interact with those on my friends list, when most college students care about sharing content. Conversely, I see many a grandmother commenting on Facebook and sharing Despicable Me graphics, eCards, motivational quotes, poorly sourced health and political articles, and completely un-funny videos. Grandmas’ comments are usually in all upper-case letters with no punctuation, if they even made it out of the status box and into a comment section at all.

The Pros and Cons of Social Media

According to Langmia, et al., people in the 1800’s were worried about the impact of the telephone much like people are worried about social media today (Social Media: Pedagogy and Practice).  However, social media itself ushers in a new forms of interconnectivity between humans. Langmia et al. also highlight the benefits, and, therefore, definition of all social media. Social media is public or semipublic, shows a list of users to share a connection with, and allows users to view possible connections or previous connections therein (Langmia et al., 2013). Additionally, and most important for my future professional purposes, social media is great for business. Social media allows messages to reach larger audiences and many different forums (Edosomwan et al., 2011).

Notwithstanding, social media makes it easy for people to see what their friends really value and that can sometimes be detrimental to friendships—especially when one considers anything of a political nature. Moreover, putting so much of oneself out there for the whole world to see is not foolproof. Teenagers are notorious for making bad decisions, and, now, their bad decisions are broadcast for the entire world to see. Moreover, social media has a negative impact on work performance and can increase technostress (Brooks, 2015). Social media is not incredibly dangerous, but it is harmful enough for people to be expected to use their best judgement and some moderation.

In conclusion, I feel that the social media pros greatly outweigh the cons. Social media allows people to make a presence for themselves on the net and to express and share interests and life-events that they may otherwise would not have gotten to share with their friends and family. As a veteran, that benefit alone is enough to outweigh the negatives.

Resources

Brooks, S. (2015). Does personal social media usage affect efficiency and well-being? Computers in Human Behavior, 46, 26-37. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.12.053

Edosomwan, S., Prakasan, S. K., Kouame, D., Watson, J., & Seymour, T. (2011). The history of social media and its impact on business. Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, 16(3), 79-91. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/889143980?accountid=39473

Langmia, K., Tyree, T., & O’Brien, P. (Eds.). (2013). Social Media : Pedagogy and Practice. Blue Ridge Summit, PA, USA: University Press of America. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com