Being a part of a show is a group effort. There is no single role that is more important than the other, and the way you work as a team can make or break the experience for everyone – including the audience.
But teamwork doesn’t come without its difficulties. When you have opposing ideas, personalities and preferences, there can be a lot of friction that leads to a negative environment, and will definitely not give you the stellar performance you know you are capable of.
So today, I have outlined my top 6 tips on how to work as a team. I find these tips help create the best environment and results, and will hopefully inspire you for the next time you find yourself a part of a cast, group or whatever it may be.
Learn to Listen
You know when you pretend to listen to your parents, your teacher or your boss when they’re talking to you? You may have noticed nothing productive ever really comes of it, and you don’t learn anything from it either. Especially in the world of the arts, it’s easy to fall into that habit of getting carried away by our own vision, so much so we are blind to the ideas of others.
But when you’re working in a team, I think it’s important to encourage discussion and really try to engage with other people’s ideas, acknowledge their concerns, take in their perspective and listen with your eyes. Discussions result in the best ideas, but that can’t happen if everybody holds back. You lose out on the innovative process of snowballing seeds of ideas into flourishing masterpieces. So I think it helps to build an environment that values listening and makes everybody feel heard – you might be surprised what you can learn from genuinely hearing somebody out.
Everybody is your Equal
Everybody on the team should be treated as equals. No matter the role or the experience, everybody is working together and every person on the team is crucial to bringing your best work to life. Even if you have a leader or a director who takes the reins and has the ultimate say, it doesn’t mean you are less important or that you don’t have a right to speak up for yourself. The best teams treat everybody equally and acknowledges each individual contribution to the final product. Everybody should be respected no matter their positions, and your role does not dictate your value to the team or your right to be respected.
Agree to Disagree
The beauty of working alongside multiple people is that you are bound to get a diverse range of perspectives. But, it also means you’ll run into contrasting opinions. This can cause a lot of tension, especially when there’s passion involved. And we all know how passionate performers can be. I think a great skill to learn early on is to agree to disagree. To be flexible and understand that your way is one way, but it’s not the only way.
It’s okay to hold firm in your perspective and opinions, but you should be equally firm in believing that they’re not “right” and they’re not the only ones that matter. It never helps to devalue the opinions of others, but it does help to compromise. Sometimes compromise comes with the territory and you have to agree to do what’s best for the whole team, even if you don’t fully agree with it. Recognize it’s all a part of working with others and it’s what helps to build an open, welcoming space for discussion and innovation.
Give Constructive Feedback
Giving feedback is crucial for growth and for getting the best performance out of your team. And sometimes people will hold back out of fear of causing conflict. But if everybody avoids giving any constructive feedback, then how does anyone expect to get better? If everyone is open to growing and acknowledging their imperfections, you’re more likely to get better results. And it’s equally important to speak up about things in a way that is focused on improvement, rather than criticizing. Finding a way to communicate your feedback without going behind people’s back or targeting anyone or their ideas can be really helpful in ensuring people don’t feel attacked or that they can’t share ideas. That will only build resentment, and that doesn’t foster an environment where people can experiment, grow and succeed.
You all have a common goal
You’re all working towards creating the best final product possible. And sometimes when things get stressful, that can be easy to forget. You might start to see your teammates as your enemies, but that’s not the case. You are all working towards a final goal: making your performance as best as it can be. And passion can create tension. So, when that happens, it helps to keep in mind that you are all here because you want to be. You want to achieve something, and the only way to do that is by working as one and keeping your common goal in mind. You’re all in this together!
Commit or Quit
Whether it be a job, a show, a relationship – if you make a commitment, you have a responsibility to follow through. Nobody likes that one person who always shows up late, doesn’t put in equal effort or just relies on everybody else to do all of the work. So, if you can’t commit yourself to the team as wholeheartedly as you say you will, don’t sign up. With that said, sometimes a thing called “life” happens – and that’s okay, everyone’s been there! But it’s important to let your team know. Be transparent, be honest. People will usually understand if you are upfront about your situation. Communication really is key.
All of these tips really boil down to the simple concept of respect. Success within a team can only happen if respect is at the core of everybody involved. If you all respect each other, you’re bound to be successful. Because even if the final product isn’t what you hoped for, you will have made some great memories, new friends and picked up a whole lot of positive learning experiences along the way.
Let us know in the comments below: what is one thing that you think is necessary to working well as a team?