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Ventura County's Support-Local Program

The Art Of Working As A Team

Totally Local VC’s Kat Merrick discusses what it takes to work successfully as part of a team. Including dealing with when the process goes horribly wrong.


Teamwork: The process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal.


I know that we have all heard the expression “there’s no ‘I’ in team.” While this saying is funny, it also has some hard truths to it. Working on so many varied projects, committees and boards, I have had the opportunity to work with a wide range of wonderful people and teams. The process of taking on a problem or project can be an exciting and rewarding experience. But it takes the right mix of people and energy to make it all happen.

All for one and one for all!

teamwork-dogsI recently sat with one such group: Ross Emery and the Roadshow Revival team. As we came together to start work on the upcoming Roadshow Revival event, I could not help but feel a great deal of pride to be a part of this team. Respect for each other and true team spirit is evident in each individual. This is something that Ross Emery has worked hard to create and it shows in the loyalty that his team has, not only to him but to each other. This got me thinking about teamwork and some of the great projects and groups I have been lucky enough to work on and work with, like Melissa Baffa and the team at Ventura Beach Festival, JD and the Surf Rodeo team, Ventura Music Week, Roadshow Revival, the Totally Local VC Dinner Series team and my new project with Makerwear.

Attributes of a good team

For the most part, I have thoroughly enjoyed being both a part of teams as well as leading teams. Upon completion of these projects, I always feel that I have learned something new from my teammates and had a great sense of accomplishment. I think that each time we work with a group of people as a team, we are given a huge opportunity to learn and to grow and to accomplish. These positive results can only be achieved by shelving one’s ego and personal conflicts with others and working toward that common goal. There are certain qualities that I have observed that make a good team member:

  • Strong communication skillsteamwork circle
  • Confidence in one’s work and self
  • The ability to praise others
  • The ability to work with others you may not care for, understanding it is for the good of the team
  • A willingness to ask others for help when needed
  • Understanding that being a team player is not something that takes away from the value of the individual, but rather increases it dramatically

The ideal team is made up of people of varying talents and interests; all sharing their abilities for a common cause for the benefit of the team itself as well as the benefit of the members of the team.

But not all teams work well together – a very personal example

In general I have been blessed with some amazing projects and opportunities to work with not only some of the best at what they do, but to truly get to know some phenomenal people as teammates. Sadly, the reality that it’s not always this smooth came to me while working on a recent project. Instead of a smooth and rewarding experience, it was one filled with dissension, egos, personal conflicts between teammates and an utter lack of respect and, to be frank, competence. This troubled me deeply as I worked to resolve, worked to empower, all to no avail.

A feeling of failure

teamwork-failureThis was a hard one for me, as I am known for the ability to solve problems, to “get ‘er done.” I believe this is a gift and one of which I am very proud. Walking away from the project, I felt that, even though it was touted as a great event, I had failed. I reviewed what had happened and “beat myself up” badly for not being able to correct these team issues. I finally decided that I had to let it go, know that I had tried my best, understand that some things just cannot be fixed and admit that some people are just not meant to be part of a team.

Lessons from the post-mortem “debrief”

Each time I am done with an event or project, I write out an overview: I “debrief” myself. I work to improve where I saw holes and try and come up with solutions where problems occurred so that they are not repeated. teamwork-learnIn this case, I had to tell myself that the good news was that the project was a success even though this was due to a few carrying the heavy load for the whole. In the end, it was a lesson as all things are. The lesson that I took away in this case was that it takes a special person to be able to work as one with others and that I must take the lessons learned from failures and grow from them just as much as the positive ones.  

Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.

— Vince Lombardi

One Comment

  1. Nailed it Kat!

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