Managing Egos While Working With Teams
by Taylor Slattery | September 23, 2022
Working with teams is difficult. On top of the pressure resulting from logistical constraints like tight deadlines and restrictive budgets, managing differing opinions and clashing personalities can add an additional layer of complexity to the process. As a newly-minted working professional, this can be one of the most challenging arenas to navigate.
Whether you’re the type who loves to collaborate or prefers a more lone-wolf approach, the reality is that a great deal of creative work is a joint effort. Working with other teams within a company, or building working relationships with clients or other companies while working on larger projects are par for the course, so learning how to work with different types of people is an important skill to develop.
Working with teams is a balancing act. It involves give and take and a keen understanding of the structure of both the team and project, as well as your place within it. When you’re first starting out, patience and restraint are the name of the game. It can be frustrating to feel like your ideas are not being heard, and as more people are added to the equation, understanding where you fit becomes even more complicated—especially as those with more dominant personality types quickly seize control of the discussion and shape the project to their liking.
Sometimes, if a project has a particularly tight deadline, allowing others to take the lead is the way to go, if only for the sake of brevity. Concessions will be made either way and sometimes you don’t have the luxury of time to properly hammer out the details. Other times, though, when you’ve got an idea you feel particularly strong about, you’ll want to stand your ground and push back when challenged. Understanding when to give and when to take just comes down to experience.
To further complicate things, unseen factors like histories between team members or past working relationships between companies also play a role when it comes to navigating office politics and can also influence the way a project unfolds. While you should never be afraid to speak your mind or stick to your guns, sometimes it’s best to just sit back and read the room a bit to avoid putting your foot in your mouth and adding unnecessary friction to a situation.
Ultimately, though, you must remember that you’re here for a reason. Your seat at the table means that your ideas have value, so don’t feel like you need to bite your tongue if you have a difference of opinion with a more senior team member. The ability to defend ideas leads to stronger results and is something every creative looks for in a team member, and something whoever hired you saw in you as well.
Once the initial glow of gratitude for having been selected for the opportunity to work as a creative has started to fade, it’s time to get to work. Let that brilliant mind shine and show them you belong here—because you do.
Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.
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