The importance of teamwork - Sharif's story

In The Nine to Five with Stacey Dooley on BBC iPlayer, Stacey takes five school leavers into four different industries that are crying out for young workers. They each get to spend two days doing the ultimate work experience. If the teens do well in the jobs they are given, Stacey rewards them with the national apprenticeship wage at the end of each day. But she also deducts money for poor performance, and so those who don’t make the grade can come away empty handed.

Here, Stacey describes how 16-year-old Sharif had a bumpy ride in several of the jobs he was given and had to be bailed out by his teammates when he didn’t get paid, but when he fully embraced teamwork everything took a turn for the better.

One team, one dream

Almost every job you go into will require you to work in a team. ‘Team player’ is a buzzword that pops up on nearly everyone’s CV. So how do you know if you’re actually a good team player, and what’s the benefit of having a strong team around you?

When you’re first starting a job, there’ll be a lot of stuff you don’t know and you’ll probably feel very aware of that fact! What I would say is, don’t worry, just use the support around you and take guidance from the other people working alongside you.

One of the most comforting things for the teens who join us on The Nine to Five, is that they are experiencing a flood of new opportunities together. When they throw themselves into a task, they do it knowing there are four other teenagers also asking themselves: ‘Err, I don’t know what I’m doing? Is this right? What is this used for? Will that button shut everything down if I press it?!'

Watch The Nine to Five with Stacey Dooley on iPlayer
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Take the pressure off

A strong team can be the hand you hold whilst you dip your toe in unknown waters. Sharif found this out for himself over the course of the series. He had spent all of his time at school, at home with his mum or out with his friends, and a workplace was a completely new environment for him. He did struggle at first and he found it hard to ask for help or support from his teammates. But a key part of working together is taking strength and confidence from your peers when you most need it. Take the pressure off yourself, ask for help and it will come.

Like Louisa and Sharif encouraging each other when they were selling salad vegetables at an East End market, the burden to succeed feels much lighter when you share the load!

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Make your peace with that: it is the truth for everyone. When you see one of your peers whizz through a task that you can only slowly wade through, a self-critical inner monster can nibble away at your confidence. You can make a competitor out of a teammate when your own inner jealousy monster starts whispering in your ear. That is not a road anyone wants to go down! Don’t allow their success to put a spotlight on your own insecurities. That will only make you want to run away and hide under the covers! Don’t be threatened by your teammate’s competence, be inspired by it. Marvel at it! Be proud for them! As they will do for you.

Watch Sharif's Bitesize video here!

Sharing the shine

Ask them to show you the ropes and be humble. After a bit of time observing your teammate, you too could be flying through the task and ready to help them when it’s your turn to lead. Sharing the shine makes stars out of everyone.

Sharif was so pleased when he did well enough to earn his own money and support himself in the evenings. His teammates had subsidised him up to that point and he was loving being able to offer something back. He saw how his team had helped him through the low times and took great pleasure in repaying them.

He learnt too that when you are working as a team, your mood can affect the environment for everyone. If you’re sitting, complaining with your head in your hands, you will quickly become the dead weight no one is that keen on having around.

He saw that you can switch your mindset and be the inspiration everyone needs to produce some top work. It is your responsibility as an individual to create a positive environment for the group.

I remember having a little pep talk with him in his room after a particularly tough day on the construction site. Sharif learnt the value of teamwork the hard way. Banking on his mates to buy him dinner for the evening, Sharif saw that his lack of commitment to the job had cost his friends much more than it cost himself. The next day he was up and ready to put his back into it and the whole team took momentum from these new, positive vibes.

Sharif was not happy with his PPE hat but knew how important it was to follow the rules for his own security.

Different folks and different strokes

The best teams are made up of lots of different types of people with complementary strengths. We need leaders, of course, but we also need creatives, practical people, organisers, strategic thinkers, and those people who are brimming with get up and go! The beauty about working in groups is that we gain insight into a diverse mix of perspectives that can be used to paint a bigger vision.

Sometimes a group of very different people can also breed a bit of conflict and you might catch yourself disagreeing with your teammates’ view. That’s fine! You don’t always have to agree with someone to get the best group outcome. Sharif really stood out to me for his new-found ability to problem-solve when other people within the team were clashing.

He managed to address and settle a heated argument at the salad farm and bring everyone to a middle ground over the price they were selling at on the East End market. Without Sharif, the team might still be heckling each other over a bowl of peppers! They say a strong team is even greater than the sum of its parts. When Sharif’s self-confidence grew, he was able to balance his own opinions with his teammates' and inspire them all to work harmoniously towards a shared end goal.

Sharif showing to others how important teamwork can be in the vegetable farm.
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