5 Steps Towards Better Teamwork

Teamwork and group collaboration play a big part in the student experience at RED Academy. Our students learn technical skills, but really get a chance to develop their soft skills in a team environment. Sometimes it can be challenging, but there always ways to improve and grow as a team member.

Grace Gadston is an alumni from the Spring 2016 UX Designer Professional program. She is originally from London, and worked as a photographer and videographer for six years before launching her career in UX design. She is passionate about traveling, design and her loved ones.  She currently works at Samsung as an Interaction Designer. Throughout her professional career she has picked up quite a few key tips on how to work well within a team.  Here she shares five standouts.

It blows my mind that with all the schools, universities and bootcamps around to help us learn the ins and outs of our chosen profession, there still isn’t much training on the etiquette of actually being a professional. Which is crazy when you think about it, especially in this coming age of ‘cultural fit vs competence’. RED Academy helps by introducing the importance of comradery and there are many other resources online that you can use to your advantage.

In panic mode after graduation at RED, I was job hunting for design roles I got in touch with industry professionals, professors and even some podcasters to try and figure out what is it, aside from industry knowledge, that employers are looking for in a candidate. In a nutshell; this is what I received,

Personality, Teamwork, Personality, Humility, Personality, Passion, Personality, Respect, Personality …

It’s pretty clear to most of us that a sh**ty attitude isn’t going to get you very far in any walks of life, and unfortunately a positive one is actually quite difficult to master, but when you do it comes with huge benefits. If you’ve ever had a mentor or been apart of a team that resembles this nature you’ll know what I’m talking about and if you haven’t, then you have the chance to bring that positive, humble attitude the team and introduce comradery.

But how do we go about this? It’s a complicated topic that’s not an easy one to master, but i’ve narrowed the fundamentals down to 5 easy steps that we can put to practice immediately.


1. Acknowledgement

Acknowledge your team mates no matter how experienced they may be or even which department they specialize in.

Team Reviewing An App At RED Academy

We all like to feel ownership of the projects we create, and sometimes we can get quite territorial over the features that do succeed. But, the first step to solid team work, is to recognize the flow in which are all apart of.

Something as simple as a passing comment or an suggestion that may seem unfit for the occasion, can spur the idea that changes the game entirely. It’s in an situation like this we need to be respectful of all ideas that pass through, as we can never be sure what they may bring. Having a sense of Humility will help this path of thinking.

2. “Yes, and..”

We can’t be expected to agree with every idea and proposition that crosses our path, but it also never feels nice to be shot down with “No, I have a better idea” or “No, that’s not good

enough”. So hopefully we can learn to gracefully disagree with a “Yes, and…”

Group of Students Working on a Project at RED Academy

It might sound corny to begin with, but to keep the creativity going and commodity strong, adding a “Yes, and..” on to the end of a colleagues sentence is a respectful way to say “Yes, and… that’s a good point, but…” or “Yes, and I see where you are coming from, however…”.

It helps soften the blow and maintain the energy we need within teamwork.

3. Accountability

Evidently, with responsibility comes accountability; and this might seem obvious to

you but many people suffer with a sense of stubborn pride or the need to save face. It’s not wrong, but it definitely is an attitude that can be improved and it for sure is something we can learn from.

RED Academy Students Working On Whiteboards

Instead of talking about my opinion on this matter, I’ll give two examples and let you come to your own conclusion,

Example 1: Meet John Smith, John is a professional that instills solidarity and teamwork when progress is going well, but tends to take a rather large step back whenever errors occur. John is always right and never to blame, because it technically wasn’t his fault.

Example 2: Meet Jane Roe, Jane is a professional that instills solidarity and teamwork when progress is going well and is the first one to own up to her errors and congratulate others on their wins. Jane is humble and unbiased because she knows failure means everybody learns.

Which character would you rather work with? Which character would you rather be?

4. Comedy

Having a sense of humour is typically a must have in most relationships, personal or professional. It’s a calming and refreshing quality to be around when we are able to laugh in the face of stress and possibly even fear.

Research has shown that when participants were asked to hold a pencil in their mouths, the forced facial expressions of smiling actually made their dorphomines increase which made them happier, relaxed and even chuckle.

I’m not suggesting that whenever a project gets intense we all resort to holding pencils in our mouths, but I believe it’s important to remind ourselves that smiling, joy and laughter actually helps to calm and relax our nerves. Being a goof or a clown from time to time is evidently productive and we all know how infectious a good laugh can be, so encourage your team to tell a few Dad jokes and don’t be afraid to use them to break the tension, now and then.

5. Retrospectives

Making time for a retrospective at the end of a project is a perfect opportunity to reflect both by yourself and as a team, and enables us to improve while maintaining an openly spoken work environment.

RED Academy Students Working on Design

This point may be obvious to most people, but we know it’s hard at first to take constructive criticism well if you don’t fully understand nor appreciate the productivity it provides. It can feel like a form of failure and has the ability to bring us all down in the dumps at some point. That’s normal, don’t sweat it, the

lesson to learn is now you know not what to do, so next time you’ll be better and wiser to occasion.

Processes like retrospectives help yourself and your teammates know that there is always a time where issues and differences can, at least be attempted to be resolved or improved.

If you’re thinking about taking a new career path in tech, RED Academy is a great place to put these skills to practice in an environment where everyone is there for the same reason, to learn. Their social Fridays are also a great place to get a feel for how human they are, too!

Feel free to leave comments or message me if you have something to share or have different opinions too! Id love to hear your thoughts and experiences 🙂

Written By:
Grace Gadston
Interaction Designer @ Samsung Electronics CA
Medium | LinkedIn | Photography | Instagram

Haidee Kongpreecha

Digital Marketing Instructor and Content Strategist

Haidee is a digital strategist who brings over seven years of marketing experience to RED Academy. She graduated with a BA from Simon Fraser University in Criminology and English, where she developed sharp analytical skills and linguistic finesse. Though Haidee has worked in all areas of digital marketing, her expertise is in content marketing, digital storytelling and branding. She is driven by creating innovative content that captivates and resonates with people. When she's not working, Haidee is sleeping. Haidee enjoys a good nap.

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