How to Avoid Teamwork Disasters: Crash Course Business – Soft Skills #12

How to Avoid Teamwork Disasters: Crash Course Business – Soft Skills #12

Group projects have such a bad reputation
that there are hundreds of memes about all the things that can go wrong. Maybe one person does all the work, the brainstorming
falls flat, or the team becomes super unorganized because they weren’t on the same page from
the start. We’ve all been there. But we’re here to show you how to avoid
teamwork disasters, in and out of the workplace. You’ll be able to help a team set goals
and work better together, use agendas and delegation to avoid meetings that go on forever,
and keep that workflow, well, actually flowing. I’m Evelyn From the Internets. And this is Crash Course Business: Soft Skills. [Intro Music Plays] Before we dive into any advice, we need to
talk about what makes a good or bad team! Basically, a good team is like the Avengers
before The Winter Soldier. It’s a small group of people who motivate
each other and have complementary skills. Everyone is on the same page, pulls their
own weight, and has individual goals that line up with the bigger picture. And they hold each other accountable, so no
one goes too rogue. A bad team is like the Avengers during Civil
War. The timetable is all over the place. People are hiding things from each other and
have personal goals that don’t match the group’s. Everyone’s practically doing their own thing
without much accountability, and they’re not contributing equally. Seriously, Thor. Where were you? The first step to turning a bad team into
a good team is making sure everyone’s on the same page. Everyone should come together to set SMART
goals. Remember those? A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Ambitious,
Realistic, and Timely. Ideally, you’d have some individual SMART
goals that match up with one, big team SMART goal. Once you have goals, you should list them
out, along with some responsibilities or even rules for the team. Write all those things in a charter before
you start working together, to set the tone for your project. Generally, no one thinks to have a charter
until they run into problems. And by then, it’s sometimes too difficult
to reassign tasks or solve conflict without damaging relationships. Think of a charter like a roommate agreement. You want to figure out that cleaning schedule
and a policy on overnight guests before you passive-aggressively let dishes pile up. Once you’ve set team responsibilities, it’s
a safe bet that you’re going to need to hold meetings to check in and, you know, work
as a team. In a good meeting, everyone is given a chance
to speak their minds, you don’t hate the meeting or the people in it, and there’s
a goal that’s actually accomplished. And, just to be clear, good meetings are not
unicorns. They do exist! But we’ve all had our fair share of bad
team meetings. They’re kind of like a supervillain’s
monologue — they waste enormous amounts of time and should be avoided. In one study involving 182 managers with different
careers, 129 of them said meetings were unproductive and inefficient. That’s 71 percent. Not chump change, people. So the first question you should always
ask yourself is: “Does everyone need to be in the same room together, and will it
accomplish anything I couldn’t do remotely?” You should hold a meeting if you need someone
else’s input, or if you’re sharing something seriously important that should be done in
person. But if you just need to give a quick update,
maybe try an email or a memo instead. If we have too many unnecessary meetings,
not only do we accomplish less, but those meetings will mean less. It’s like the organizational equivalent
of crying wolf. So if your team is leaving for a conference,
don’t put everyone in a room for an hour to decide who’s bringing what presentation
supplies. Send out a checklist. But if you need to figure out a complex plan
to make amends and rebrand your team after a PR nightmare, a meeting is probably the
way to go. When you schedule a meeting, only include
anyone who’s absolutely necessary. You’ll need to determine who that is, but
generally, it means people who are directly involved in your project or immediately affected
by your decisions. I’m gonna be real here. Some people may be there because of office
politics. Like maybe they’re a senior manager who
could probably just read meeting notes, but they may feel excluded if they don’t have
the chance to chime in. But otherwise, most people will appreciate
being left off the roster if they’re not required to be there. Plus, getting the whole team together for
a brainstorming session is… pretty much useless. I know. Brainstorming sounds catchy. And there’s that whole inspirational movie
bit with a team of determined young professionals launching ideas at each other in a conference
room late at night. But in real life, it’s pretty counterproductive. Getting people together to think spontaneously
doesn’t lead to better ideas. It just leads to more ideas to talk about
in more meetings. To see what to do instead, let’s go to the
Thought Bubble. It’s college graduation time. You’ve worked hard for four years, saved
up money from part-time jobs, and you’re ready for one last hurrah before you join
the proverbial rat race. So you and your two best friends meet up at
your favorite coffee shop and spend an hour brainstorming the perfect vacation on a budget. But once you get started, ideas fly, and you’re
left with a jumbled mess of a Google doc! No one can agree on anything. You want to go hike in Hawaii, but honestly
you’re not even sure if all the islands have good trails, or how easy it is to get
between them. One of your friends wants to go a on a cross-country
road trip, but can’t name any places other than the Grand Canyon. The other wants to backpack through Europe
to “find yourselves,” but doesn’t really have a plan besides staying in hostels, maybe. Since brainstorming wasn’t productive, you
and your friends agree to do some solid research on your own and meet again in a week to each
give a small pitch. You each look through travel blogs and make
more detailed itineraries ahead of time, texting each other little questions like what your
budgets are or whose car has better gas mileage. So when you meet up again, you can talk about
what matters, like overall cost, transportation, and timelines. You even put together a pros and cons list! After talking over the options, you realize
you’ll be able to save a few hundred dollars and put that money towards a few more travel
days if you drive Route 66 together, with stops for hiking and camping. Plus, you’ll be on the beach in Santa Monica
for a perfect last day. Thanks, Thought Bubble! An agenda that’s distributed before a meeting
helps people walk in knowing exactly what’s going on and provides a bit of structure. Assuming they read the agenda. You can lead a horse to water… and all that. It’s important to keep meetings from going
overtime, and a 30 minute meeting can easily turn into 3 hours without some guidance. That being said, you don’t always have to
follow agendas to the letter. As long as side-conversations aren’t super
off-topic, you may generate great ideas! Really, a successful, balanced meeting structure
depends a lot on the team and company culture. But assigning team roles can also help make
sure that everything stays under control. A task leader can make sure that the agenda
is actually getting accomplished and cut off people that are going on tangents. And a relationship leader can make sure that
everyone gets a chance to speak, or mediate conflict so everyone doesn’t end up grumpy
and hating each other. I know it’s sometimes hard to make yourself
heard, but try not to get down when someone interrupts you or dominates the conversation. You were hired for your work ethic and your
outlook — never forget that! And if you have a great idea or have worked
on a project longer than the person sitting next to you, it doesn’t give you have a
free pass to talk forever. It’s a meeting, not a presentation, Robert. Don’t be that guy. So check yourself, and try to encourage people
to speak up that haven’t contributed. Plus, teams need a variety of opinions so
ideas don’t fall flat! So take steps to avoid conformity. Large teams, and even like-minded people,
can run into groupthink. That’s when groups make subpar decisions
because people value harmony more than making the best decision, so they avoid disagreement. It’s kind of like peer pressure in the office. If you want a fun read, look at the Abilene Paradox, where four people take a miserable
trip no one wanted to take, just because they thought everyone else wanted to go. It’s hard to completely stop groupthink,
but knowing it’s there is a first step. Assigning a devil’s advocate to poke holes
in ideas during meetings can also help. Since our brains are weird, we’re sometimes
unconsciously influenced by the first opinion that gets said. So if you’re voting on a decision, you should
vote blind on slips of paper. If you’ve seen 12 Angry Men — you know. But the the best way to lower conformity is
to keep your group size small, roughly between 3-6 people. Follow the pizza rule! Basically, if you can’t feed everyone with
one pizza, you should probably have fewer people at the meeting. Larger meetings can lead to social loafing,
which is when some people don’t contribute because they can fly under the radar or there’s
too many people with not enough to do. And depending on the situation, if you can,
it may be best to exclude the boss to avoid groupthink. Nobody really wants to challenge the boss. Plus, you could feel like your boss doesn’t
care or your opinion won’t change anything, especially if your company tends to ignore
recommendations. But even if meeting situations aren’t ideal,
remember that you can help stop groupthink, and that whole movements have started because
people have spoken up. Changes for healthier company cultures are so important. But also without Richard Montañez, the Frito-Lay
janitor, we wouldn’t have flaming hot cheetos. The world would be a darker place. And if you think your team may be making a
bad decision that’s unethical or offensive, the repercussions for staying silent may be
greater than for speaking up. Even if you feel outvoted. We’ve all seen insensitive ad campaigns
that should have gotten stopped in production. …Pepsi… And if you’re afraid of speaking up because
public speaking is tough, it’s gonna be okay. People are self-centered, and they are probably
way more concerned with themselves than what you’re saying. Plus, most people are more forgiving of spoken
mistakes than written ones. Nerves are real! So cut yourself some slack, because no one
is perfect. But if we help each other learn, we’ll all
get a little bit better. So go take on the world with an awesome team,
and remember: Only plan team meetings when absolutely necessary. Making agendas, delegating responsibilities,
and managing work effectively will keep your meeting time low. Don’t brainstorm as a team. It’s not necessarily productive. Come up with ideas on your own and then get
together to discuss them. Your opinion matters, and don’t be afraid
to speak up to fight groupthink. Next week, we’ll tackle difficult workplace
conversations you don’t really want to have, in a way that’s productive and respectful. Thanks for watching Crash Course Business. If you want to help keep all Crash Course
free for everybody, forever, you can join our community on Patreon. And if you want to learn more about teams
in formal settings, check out this Crash Course Sociology video on Formal Organizations.


76 thoughts on “How to Avoid Teamwork Disasters: Crash Course Business – Soft Skills #12”

  • Psycho Demon Moth says:

    I always do all the work and then my team takes all the credit that is why I know work alone in school

  • Jeez, I just… I NEEDED THIS A WEEK AGO! not 5-minutes after sending that break-up-esque message to someone…

  • Every time I hear the theme I do a little dance… ( Yes, I know I'm weird ) and today one of my siblings walked in. She thought I was a total weirdo but I don't care cause it's Crash Course Business Softskills time!

  • Avery the Cuban-American says:

    In school when we do group projects, I end up doing all the work and they get credit for work I DID

  • Life with AJ says:

    I love your videos so much. I hope your channel is the best channel on YouTube.😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁😁

  • WOW!!! This is the best. Thank you so much!!! I love the way you present. Love the humor and simplicity of your tips 😅

  • Matthew Scandura says:

    i think why people sometimes do meetings is more an accountability thing. people can (and will) ignore texts or emails. but if you're there, face to face, you can't pretend you didn't just hear what someone said.

    now, sure as hell doesn't work and meetings are often unproductive like you said. i think that just explains part of why people still have them

  • Life Progress - a channel for introverts says:

    “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

    ― Phil Jackson

  • Fastdragonstar says:

    i had a bad team last year, 3 people out of our group of 11 hated me because they did not like my accent… yes seriously (where i come from we can sound quite harsh when we talk normally), they all listened to my ideas and acted like they were civil, they would then shoot down all of my ideas if they could and then complain about me to the others while intentionally freezing me out of all the important conversations.
    The worst part about this was that the 3 people that did this were best friends and they had more or less forced themselves into the roles of human resourse manager, team leader and vice team leader for the whole group so there was not a whole lot i could do.

    The ironic part in how they acted was that they said that all choices would be judged "fairly and democratically" and that "everyone would get to say their piece" but as soon as i said anything at all they would try to cut me off and then go on a tirade about how it was a bad idea or how my opinion was out of place. I got lucky by getting seriously sick after awhile (Pneumonia), i have never had such a bad case before (i got extremely exhauseted just by walking 10 meters) but it honestly felt more like a vacation to me at the time.

  • TijuanaThousand says:

    Teamwork is as simple as it was 10,000 years ago, follow man with big stick, he smash all others, if nother big stick kill your man? Follow new big stick.

  • Thankfully my current job doesn't require a lot of meetings and projects. It's pretty much a "just do your job" job. I can live with that. It's bad to say, but I'm not much of a team player. Just being honest. I try, but ideas don't seem to come to me when a whole group is depending on it. On single projects, I usually have little to no problems. But I feel like I don't have much to offer in group settings.
    But, I decided to go back to school after 10 years of being out. Last semester was my first, and there wasn't a lot of teamwork stuff. But it will happen, and when it does, I feel like I'm just going to disappoint a whole new group of people. Not only do I still have trouble coming up with ideas on the spot in groups, I also have like NO time. Last semester, I did 90% of my school work during work breaks and unholy early hours of the morning. How am I supposed to work around other people's schedules? I can barely work around my own.

  • Save The Duck says:

    I can't even count how much money I made thanks to Evelyn's tips. Easily in the hundreds of dollars, which is a lot of happifyin' pancakes.

  • This is like the direct opposite of scrum and agile methods from the software development world. People do short "stand-up" meetings every morning to make sure everyone has what they need to do their work that day. They solve bad meetings by having more of them but at a faster pace. Software teams have to produce combined output that works, so there's a lot that goes into figuring out how to do that well. From this video it sounds like most people in offices are really doing their own thing and don't actually need to talk to each other very much. But this must vary widely by industry right?

  • Steven Turano says:

    I work with a friend who is my boss. And I have a hard time getting him to follow the rules, I'm glad that you remind people to speak up. My co workers are not used to it, so they normally come to me, so thank you for these videos.

  • Oeumuepo Stéphanois says:

    Please add any suggestions. It's not like Crash Course needs new ideas lol, but just putting it out there and feel free to comment what your preferred next topic would be – and once it's mentioned vote with likes.

    Coding logic


    Non-human Sociology



    Astrophysics (as a follow up to Astronomy and Cosmology)

    hehe – Maths (split up into 3, 4, 5 thematic parts?)


    Non-human Linguistics

    African History (imo from the first attested human settlements)


    Urbanism and Urban Planning

    Political Theory

    Geopolitical Theory

    Acoustics and Sound Engineering Music History – possibly split up into

    _________________Written Western Music History

    _________________World Popular Music History

    _________________Asian Written Music History

    _________________World Written Music History

    Music Theory – possibly split up into

    _________________Tonal Music Theories

    _________________Greek, Medieval and Renaissance Western Music Theories

    _________________African Music Theories

    _________________Music Theory (others, like Indian, dodecaphonic, Messiaen etc)

  • The way to avoid teamwork failures is to make sure you don't have bad teammates. If someone on your team is a lazy fuckhead, you are going to fail as a team. If nobody is lazy on your team, you will do well. That is all there is to it, nothing more. The Avengers are a great example because nobody is a lazy fuckhead. The only Avenger she used as a bad example was Thor, the fat lazy guy.

  • Peter Halpin says:

    Ι usually hate videos where you just watch the presenter talk, but Evelyn is the best! Also, I liked this topic. Thanks!

  • None of this helps. All these tips imply that the people present know their strengths and weaknesses, which role they best fit and/or trust someone enough to let themselves be told.
    The only situations that make good teamwork, are either: people who like each other (and want to work together) or who are professional enough to keep their ego and emotions in check long enough to finish the task.
    If that's not the case, you're essentially fu**ed …

  • Noir Deserves Better says:

    Just as I have a group project, this video pops up and I need it way more than I would like to admit it

  • From reading the notes I get that people hate teamwork and especially team meetings. I think project managers exist to do the dirty team work parts while you concentrate on getting results.

  • If you can’t feed everybody with one pizza you need less people in your meeting.

    What’s the point of a meeting with only one person in it?

  • TheImperialRebel says:

    Thank you for this video! This is EXACTLY what I needed to get ready for this school year. As a team leader and a member of a group, the "brainstorming" part is TRUE! I can relate to every single topic presented by the video and I hope for more content like this! HUGE thumbs up! : D

  • Well I can answer you question easily….Staying in Hostels in Europe is the best option.


    Oh yeah….it works better if you're an American, bilingual, ethnic, outgoing, charismatic guy while in Europe….and the Europe where the women are gorgeous and where they love Americans that: speak another language, are outgoing and charismatic.

    oooooooh God….I loved my multiple times in Europe. 🙂

  • Rainer Kramm Consulting says:

    I think brainstorming is not productive only if you don't have clear criterias to decide what idea is or is not valuable to achieve goals.
    It all starts from a strategy.

  • Andrea Domínguez says:

    No Spanish subtitles, yikes guys. I want to show this video but my classmates don’t understand English. 😞

  • "If you can't feed everyone with one pizza, you need fewer people at the meeting."
    Is that why I work best alone? One pizza barely feeds me.

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