Teamwork Lessons

by on October 24th, 2012

So my goal of 1 post a week has been destroyed :) . To be fair, I had a wedding to attend last week.

I’ve mentioned before how b-school seems to be all about teamwork. I’ve been burned severely by a teammember putting my education at risk, and the rest of that team also not performing to a required standard. I had hoped I learned from this experience and thus sought out those people who reflected my own attitude and work ethic.

The second thing I should have learned: don’t team with someone who has completed “checked out” of the schooling process.

I know I’ve mentioned this before also, but by the time second year comes around, there’s no external incentive to work. Awards have been issued, scholarships have been sent out, the mantra “grades don’t matter” has truly sunk in, and most eyes are towards the final goal – a job after graduation. It’s pretty easy-going in comparison to first year. Minimal effort is required to get a passing grade (if not a good grade), and people have learned that the effort expended to go from an A- to an A is not worth the jump. Also, as I discovered, this means that minimal effort is given to team work projects.

Before the mini started, I had someone reach out to me and ask to team up for a class. I made it very clear I didn’t want a repeat of what happened to me the previous mini (where I did all the work), and he/she assured me it wouldn’t happen. I trusted this assurance. Looking back, I think this person had scoped me for being a teammate because I would be relied upon to do the majority of the work, and I think this person figured he/she would be on easy street for this class.

The first warning came when Teammate offered to submit our project proposal but didn’t do so on time. Now, while I acknowledge that everyone tends to not worry about end-of-term projects until the end of the mini, Teammate didn’t seem engaged with the project and didn’t read or respond to any correspondence I had sent out regarding work I had already done.

Second warning: the meeting we had as a team 1 week before a presentation assessment item was due. Teammate started talking about a subject that wasn’t what we had decided on. I was concerned, but thought we had reached a compromise. I sent out a report outline to make sure that everything was cool.

Boiling pot syndrome: I labored over the week and weekend to do what we had agreed upon at the beginning of the mini: write the report then write the presentation. I did both, and sent it out. A number of times, each one saying “presentation on Monday”. Two HOURS before the presentation was due to be submitted, Teammate responds “I didn’t realize it was due today.” Teammate submits presentation with his/her slides to the professor – the rest of the team didn’t get to see it. Presentation comes, and I ask to present (since I wasn’t going to be available the next session), and presentation contains a bunch of information that is completely different than what we decided on – the information that Teammate talked about in the last meeting. What’s worse, it didn’t flow in a logical manner. I’m fuming, but don’t say anything to Teammate. Instead, I talk to the professor about Teammate’s attitude. Professor also noticed that things were odd in the presentation.

Sh*t hits the fan: I’m in Gettysburg for the wedding of a close friend. I get an email from Teammate saying what he did to my report. I look in the report and see that Teammate wrote an executive summary that contained no information from the report itself (and talked about stuff that, again, was related to his presentation) and neglected to write up the pieces he had volunteered to do. I send a scathing email in response, asking him to do the work. I also email the professor, explaining the situation. Teammate responds in the 28-yr-old version of “you’re a meany poopy head” by attacking everything I’ve done and getting insulting. He claims that our project topic is on the subject he was working on. Professor responds by allowing two separate reports to be written. I pull this trump card on Teammate and tell him that unless he does the work, s/he’s going to have to write his own report on his subject (which, looking back, is the exact same topic as s/he’s doing in another class. I get the feeling that Teammate is looking to cut corners and not do any extra work but is affronted by the fact I called him/her out on it). Teammate comes around, but not without taking a few more additional pot shots.

Report finally gets submitted with all our names on it.

Looking back on it, there are a number of lessons I took from this. The first and obvious one: don’t team with this person again.

But what is more sad is this fact: Teammate was a friend. Teammate was also one of those bad eggs that happened to fall through the cracks of the admissions program and had alienated a huge part of the class due to his/her arrogant behaviour. I was his/her defender. Now that I received the full brunt of this person’s arrogance and petulance, I feel I cannot defend this person anymore. Nor do I feel that our friendship is worth holding onto, especially when his/her disdain and contempt shone brightly through his/her actions and the emails that were written to me.

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