C-Hub Spotlight, Issue 5, May 2023

Featured Topic: Teamwork

Effective teamwork depends upon inclusive communication, ongoing attentiveness to team dynamics, and a collaborative focus on team goals. Importantly, high functioning teams are characterized by an active commitment to understanding and valuing the diverse experiences, expertise, and perspectives that each member brings, together with awareness and accountability to power and bias. Three key structural elements that characterize the evolution of teams include:

  • interdependence (e.g., as determined by the nature of the project or goal-oriented process, the manner in which goals are defined, shared, and achieved, and the way performance is assessed or reviewed)
  • team dynamics (e.g., processes by which goals are completed, attitudes, and adaptation to change)
  • team boundaries (e.g., as defined by organizational structures, self-identity, or the perceptions of other members)

What’s the evidence?

Insufficient attention to these core elements precludes team creativity and productivity (Hülsheger et al., 2009). Teams in which individual members act independently to solely satisfy job requirements, or without seeking feedback and connections with other lab colleagues do not function at their highest potential (Salas et al., 2015). Even when there are good intentions, poor interpersonal skills can exacerbate these structural issues. In addition, when organizational “veterans” (those who may have been part of an organization for a significantly long time) are less receptive to the ideas or contributions of newer team members, it can be difficult for the entire team to fully benefit from new opportunities and strategies. Leaders of teams play a critical role in transitions through a demonstrable commitment to inclusive leadership, accountability, and the refinement of team processes (Salas et al., 2015). Through active listening, clear and transparent communication, and ongoing effective feedback, team leaders (together with their team members) can cultivate a climate that engenders a highly functioning team and a caring and respectful culture.

What can YOU do?

Here are best practices that can enhance teamwork:

At the individual level

  • be aware of your own biases and assumptions
  • suspend judgment to allow team members to feel comfortable voicing their thoughts and to promote the exploration of new or challenging ideas
  • increase awareness of the need to develop expertise in teamwork-specific skills to complement technical or domain-specific expertise

At the team-management level

  • develop parameters for clear, ongoing communication
  • set transparent expectations for managing conflict, including what strategies will be adopted
  • build deliberate reflection into team practices (such as team meetings and routine tasks)
  • clearly define each team member’s roles and responsibilities while remaining flexible

At the organizational level

  • ensure diverse representation that authentically allows for the contributions and leadership by underrepresented groups
  • establish a context for teamwork in the organization by including it as a consideration in selection criteria and meaningful performance evaluations

In teaching

  • avoid traditional transmissive teaching styles in favor of project-based, inquiry-based problem-based, or case-based approaches that require group reflection, which help students and others acquire teamwork skills (these approaches should be carefully scaffolded)

Upcoming Events:

  • Pride Month 2023: Bloom Together, will take place throughout the month of June. Presented by The OIST LBGTQ+ Allies. Everyone is invited to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in a series of fun and insightful events. All members of the OIST community that would like to learn, discuss and engage in LGBTQ+ issues are welcome to join us. Please see their webpage with regular event postings here.
  • C-Hub will host a workshop as part of the Pride Month events listed above entitled, "Coming Out in Class: Why active learning is important in science courses for LGBTQIA students," on June 23, facilitated by C-Hub Director Kathy Takayama. Check the Pride Month page above for more forthcoming details.
  • The 2nd Study Session for OIST Administrative Staff “Research Areas of Science and Technology” will be held tomorrow, Thursday, May 25, 13:30-14:30 by Dr. Mizuki Shimanuki (Office of the Provost) and Ayumi Nagai (C-Hub). The 3rd Study Session will be held on June 15, 13:00-14:00. This series of sessions are for members in the administrative and management divisions to provide basic overall knowledge of OIST’s research activities, and to connect the understanding to a broader perspective of their role in the organization. The first 5 sessions are offered in Japanese, and English sessions will be held from September to December. Find more about the series here.
  • The Graduate School will conduct their next mini course, Project and Team Management Tools for Academic Research with an Emphasis on Jira and Confluence, tomorrow, May 25, at  13:00 in C700. This will be the second time that this Mini Course is being offered, and it is back by popular demand. The topic is broadly relevant for students, researchers, faculty and administrative staff. A great chance to learn about tools that can enhance your productivity & teamwork! Check their Mini Course page for information on other upcoming opportunities and to register.


  • Congratulations to the recipients of the 2022 – 23 Teaching and Course Design Certificate!

    Lorena Andreoli, Gabriela Capo Rangel, Eloisa Cuestas, Samuel Curé, Julian De Vuyst, Shubham Gautam, Aleksandra Gavrilova, Michael Izumiyama, Joanna Komorowska-Müller, Shin-Yu Lee, Yung Chieh Liu, Thato Mokhothu, Stefano Pascarelli, Izabela Porebska, Vishnu Ravindran, Nurhanani Binti Razali, Viviane Saito, Shivani Sathish, Saswato Sen, Maya Street, Nivedha Velmurugan, Yazmin Hanani Zurita Gutierrez

Learn more about the C-Hub Teaching and Course Design Certificate Program on the C-Hub's website here.

  • If you’re interested in leading one of the Graduate School's Mini Courses (see above), please reach out to Keely Brandon or the CP Team.
  • C-Hub has been producing this newsletter since January, 2023. We would still like to enhance it with your suggestions. If you submit feedback with a suggestion for future newsletter content, you may be the lucky winner of a free hardcopy of Ann Rolfe’s well-cited handbook on mentoring, Mentoring: Mindset, Skills, and Tools. Please submit your feedback here.
  • C-Hub has an extensive and interesting collection of books on mentoring, teaching and learning, and other professional development topics that you can check out. See that list here. [*Note, this is only open to OIST members.]

C-Hub Services and Programs:

C-Hub provides individual consultations for all members of the OIST community on a broad range of topics including career consultations, pedagogy, course and syllabus design, CVs and resumés (for the academic and non-academic job market), teaching portfolios and statements, DEI (diversity, equity, & inclusion), CliftonStrengths Coaching, work-life balance, etc. For more information, visit our Consultations and Coaching page here. C-Hub offers regularly scheduled programs, such as the Teaching and Course Design Certificate Program, and Peer Mentoring Circles Program. Watch this space for future announcements.

References and Further Reading:

Benishek, L. E., & Lazzara, E. H. (2019). Teams in a new era: Some considerations and implications. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1006.

Hall, K. L., Vogel, A. L., Huang, G. C., Serrano, K. J., Rice, E. L., Tsakraklides, S. P., & Fiore, S. M. (2018). The science of team science: A review of the empirical evidence and research gaps on collaboration in science. American Psychologist, 73(4), 532.

Hülsheger, U. R., Anderson, N., & Salgado, J. F. (2009). Team-level predictors of innovation at work: a comprehensive meta-analysis spanning three decades of research. Journal of Applied psychology, 94(5), 1128.

O'Neill, T. A., & Salas, E. (2018). Creating high performance teamwork in organizations. Human Resource Management Review, 28(4), 325-331.

Salas, E., Shuffler, M. L., Thayer, A. L., Bedwell, W. L., & Lazzara, E. H. (2015). Understanding and improving teamwork in organizations: A scientifically based practical guide. Human Resource Management, 54(4), 599-622.

Thayer, A. L., Petruzzelli, A., & McClurg, C. E. (2018). Addressing the paradox of the team innovation process: A review and practical considerations. American Psychologist, 73(4), 363.

Vogler, J. S., Thompson, P., Davis, D. W., Mayfield, B. E., Finley, P. M., & Yasseri, D. (2018). The hard work of soft skills: Augmenting the project-based learning experience with interdisciplinary teamwork. Instructional Science, 46, 457-488.