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How to work in groups?

EHL Insights
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Group work is a hallmark of higher education, but it continues after graduation, too. Particularly in the hospitality sector, employees must be able to work together as a team to accomplish objectives, manage events, and keep on top of tasks.

Learn what makes an effective team and how to work best in groups. 

What Makes a Good Team? 

Relationships are at the heart of a team. People work together toward shared goals and common objectives, rather than working independently toward personal objectives. Often, the different perspectives that people bring to a team make the group function stronger. 

A good team will feel cohesive, where members hold one another accountable to standards. If someone calls out because they're sick, a coworker will readily pitch in to ensure the customer experience is smooth. 

Groups are often hotbeds of innovation, because the combination of individual talent leads to the generation of new ideas. This can turn into a competitive advantage for your hotel or restaurant, where savvy teams come up with unique solutions to challenges. 

How to Work Well in Groups 

When you understand what makes a successful team, you can start to extrapolate how to work well in groups. It all starts with smart hiring, or selecting the right people to be on your team. The most successful groups have the tools and resources they need to succeed, whether that's technology, budget, resources, or professional development tools. 

To prevent one personality from dominating, a team leader should maintain clear lines of communication within the group, so that all team members feel empowered to speak up. 

As former hospitality professional Stephanie Abrams Cartin notes, your ability to get "different departments and professionals" working together toward a common goal "will ultimately dictate how successful" your hospitality business will be. Thus, clear leadership is essential to manage groups. Without strong leadership, team members may not know who is in charge, what is the priority, or what their roles and responsibilities are. Always let team members know what the goals are, clarifying and updating during employee meetings to keep everyone on the same page. 

A survey of UK workers found that 42 percent of employees left their job due to poor management. Managers should strive to "lead by example" by modeling the type of behavior they would like to see from employees. For instance, to model clear communication, management should listen to employee concerns without interrupting, paraphrase what they heard, and take criticisms or feedback without feeling personally attacked by staff. Managers should then offer regular and constructive feedback to help everyone succeed professionally. 

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Even when you set your group up for success, disagreements may still happen. If conflict is not addressed proactively, it will sow tension and disharmony among the group. The best approach is to acknowledge the disagreement while the problem is still small. 

If you can't nip it in the bud - for example, a team member informed you of a problem that's been brewing for some time - take time to think through how you would like to respond. Which actions will fuel disagreement and which will cool tempers? 

Rather than issue an ultimatum, have a rational discussion with all affected parties. Let everyone share their feelings while the others listen respectfully. By sharing information, you can move past misconceptions, clarify what's really at stake, and find a new consensus. After everything has worked itself out, reward the team to reinforce cohesion and move past the unpleasant conflict.

It may take some trial and error to build teamwork at a new organization. Stay flexible as you build your group and begin to work together. Look to your mentors for support along the way, as a strong network of hospitality professionals is often the key to success of a new venture. Examine your progress, test and tweak your approach, and stay positive. You will find success. 

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