Brown Bag: None of us are as smart as all of us – Teamwork strategies in STEM [Event Recap]

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SCWIST Review: None of us are as smart as all of us: Teamwork strategies in STEM

Overview by Emma Griffiths, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, SFU.

SFU, Burnaby Campus, held Oct 23 2014

“Thinker-Doer”, Anamaria Crisan, otherwise known as Bioinformatician/Biostatistician extraordinaire at the BC Centre for Disease Control, knows how to work a crowd. Delivering a highly informative and entertaining talk on project management and teamwork in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM), Ana kicked off the inaugural SCWIST (Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology) lunchtime Brown Bags event with a bang. Walking us through the 5 phases of team development, she highlighted the stages of Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning with strategies for team members and team leads using stories from her project management training and experience in industry. Ana stressed the importance of understanding different personality types and clearly defining roles, goals and processes when a team is forming in order to avoid conflict and that professionalism and feedback are some of the most effective tools for maintaining healthy group dynamics (nothing is more appetizing than the “Nice Sandwich”, in which constructive criticism is delivered sandwiched between two tasty compliments). Furthermore, Ana says that while gender imbalances within teams in STEM can arise from conscious or unconscious biases, that a workplace that is supportive of women, is generally a supportive environment for all groups on the whole, which can be achieved using objective evaluations and active management.

Lessons learned:

  • Define roles and processes for each member at the start of a project
  • Define outcomes and use objective evaluations to provide regular feedback
  • Be inclusive (use “we” instead of “I” when referring to elements of group work); have multiple channels for communication to accommodate different personality types
  • Encourage differences in ideas between members, but discourage conflicts in personalities

The next SCWIST Brown Bags event will be held on Nov. 27 on the Burnaby Campus, and will feature Molecular Biology and Biochemistry professor Fiona Brinkman who will discuss Effective Mentorship.

The Brown Bags lunch series is hosted in partnership with SCWIST, The Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Fellows and the SFU Postdoc Association.

overview is by Emma Griffiths, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, SFU.


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