Teams Initiative Program partners with student work teams

A look inside Teams Initiative’s role in helping student work teams work productively.

Saif Sarfani, Viking Fusion Reporter

High-performance teamwork is valued at Berry, especially among student work teams throughout campus. Teams Initiative, which is part of the Premier Student Work Experience Program, encourages student workers and supervisors to do just that through partnerships, assessments, awards and resources for skills.

Team Initiative consultants partner with student work teams to help them develop characteristics of a high-performance team: leadership, talent, skills and community. Teams Initiative consultant Laura Combs explained why leadership is most important.

“With the Teams Initiative, we have added leadership on to that because we know it’s different working with student work teams and how important the leadership is from especially staff supervisors,” Combs said.

By partnering with various teams, consultants give out high performance team assessments to student workers to identify strengths and opportunities. Teams Initiative staff supervisor Wendy Dahlgren said these assessments provide feedback for things that can be improved within teams.

“If you’re part of a student work team on campus, that has 20 students in the department and you don’t always get to work together, you don’t always get to see each other, but you all have some common things that could be better,” Dahlgren said. “It gives student workers an avenue to share feedback in a way that is safe and is confidential, that gives them a crisp way to say, ‘Okay, evaluate your team.’”

Teams Initiative uses these four characteristics to enhance communication among workers by recommending regular meetings and getting to know each other’s stories.

“If you know each other’s stories, you don’t have to best friends with everyone you work with, but if you know each other’s stories, you know the basics about their families, you know the basics of what they value, what’s most important to them, there’s a natural human tendency to support each other,” Dahlgren said.

Team of the Month and Team of the Year awards have been presented to various teams every month and academic year since 2012.  Though winners are selected based on their demonstration of the four characteristics of a high-performance team, Team of the Month is often a group that has faced challenges and managed them.

Dahlgren said that the Berry College Theatre Company was once such team that demonstrated managing challenges during the 2016-2017 academic year.

“This year, with the construction of the new theater building, the theater company was spread out throughout campus for most of this year,” Dahlgren said. “The scene shop had to move their entire operation out to the telecomm building and their theater productions were happening in various places around campus.”

Dahlgren added that Team of the Month recipients who have received nominations outside of their team stand out.

“Others in the Berry community are recognizing that ‘Hey, that team is awesome,’” she said of the Mail Services team. “The amount of packages that come through and have to make it to members of this community has increased so significantly in the past five years. So we recognized them this year, because others across campus people were saying ‘Wow, they are really conquering this battle.’”

The Team of the Year award is presented at the Rollins Work Awards ceremony and the winner is selected by student leaders, student media, the Student Government Association, Residence Life, Krannert Center Activities Board (KCAB) and staff supervisors of previous recipients.  

“For an award like that, we do want the broader community choosing who Team of the Year should be,” Dahlgren said. “We’ve only had four recipients; this year will be the fifth.”

Past recipients of Team of the Year have been KCAB, Berry Student Enterprises Team (BEST), Viking Fusion and the Chaplain’s Office.

thumbnail_Team of the Year 2015-16 Chaplain's Office.jpeg
 Chaplain’s Office, 2015-16 Team of the Year. Photo credit: Student Work.

Teams Initiative also provides student work teams with training resources like Skillport, available on the Berry College website. Skillport allows students to gain further knowledge on Microsoft Office programs, professionalism, business edict and workplace communication.

“That’s a resource we encourage supervisors and student workers to take advantage of when we identify an opportunity for that,” Dahlgren said.

By partnering with student work teams, honoring exemplary ones with awards and providing tools to help them gain skills, Teams Initiative encourages student work programs to perform well and succeed at what they do.



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