Wednesday, March 9, 2011

3 ways to Avoid Team Conflicts at Basic

An article I wrote for

By Senior Airman Nick VanWormer

During basic training up to 60 recruits, each with their own unique background, prejudices, and ideas, live in close quarters in a high stress environment. In this situation there is bound to be conflict, in fact it is expected. It is also expected that this disunited group of people will learn to work as a unified team. Success strongly depends on how soon each individual learns the following key points of working with others during basic training.

1. Focus on others. As you prepare to leave for basic training your focus should be about what you need to do before you leave. When you’re with friends and family the conversation focuses around what your basic training experience is going to be like. At this point, the focus is on you. However, once you arrive at basic training you should change your mindset from ‘what do I need to do?’ to ‘what do we need to do?’

2. W hen one individual fails the team fails. Just like a sports team, in order to win the game the team must work well together. While at the same time it takes individual achievement to bring the team to victory. Likewise, the failings of one team player can cause a loss for the entire team. Therefore it is important that everyone looks out for their fellow teammates, stepping in to compensate for an individuals weakness (which could be as small as folding shirts, or rolling socks) and capitalizing on an individual’s strength.

3. Being right isn’t always best. During basic training you and your group will be faced with many tasks that must be completed in a short amount of time. Your instructor will not necessarily tell you how to accomplish these tasks, but rather leave it up to the group to figure out. This is often when conflict occurs. During these times you may be right about the best way to complete the task, but arguing about it is not the best use of time. If there is a strong enough conflict that is hindering the task from getting done, it is better to swallow your pride and do it their way in order to accomplish the task.

Consciously think about these basic concepts during basic training and it will help you work with your team.