Teaming Up for Local History
I have just surpassed my year-and-a-half mark as a member of the Local History Services department at IHS. Not only am I feeling less new, but I am also feeling more in-tune with our department dynamics. I learned quickly that we all work best when we work together and that the line between friend and co-worker when you frequently spend six or more hours in a car together is a little blurry.
At first I was a bit leery of the idea that Local History Services is so often seen as "LHS" rather than individuals. However, I quickly learned that it is essential for us to effectively do our work ... plus, it is pretty great to be that intertwined with your department so everyone is in the loop and can answer almost any question at any time!
Whether you work as part of a small organization or a department in a large organization, working well together is essential for harmony in the work place. There is quite a bit of information on the internet about how to be a team player and how important it is for the success of the organization. But, what about how important it is for you? I know that sounds like a contradiction, but consider it ... how does working as part of an effective team positively affect you and in turn feed the team-work beast some positive mojo?
Here are some of the benefits I have discovered over the last year while working as part of a high-functioning team:
- Less stress. Not just less stress at work but also at home. By working with colleagues who create an open, positive atmosphere for discussing the difficulties related to work that inevitably come up, it is actually possible to "leave it at the office." Because I can talk with teammates and often get any hiccups settled before leaving the office, I can go home and spend an enjoyable, relaxing evening with my spouse, rather than dumping all of my work problems on their plate while we make dinner.
- Ability to take vacation ... or be sick. When you work as an individual instead of as a member of a functional team, it can feel impossible to take planned vacation, and forget about an unplanned sick day! But, by working on a great team you can feel confident that any fires that happen in your absence will be put out, and that your team will act as your gatekeeper, only letting direly important issues reach you when you are visiting far-off places.
- Confidence. How often does your phone ring at the office and you have a moment of anxious panic hoping you have the answer to the question on the other line? Because I know the basic ins and outs of what my coworkers are working on and what their specialties are (in part through those endless hours on the road!), I feel confident that if faced with a question aimed at our department, I can answer it. At the very least I know where to direct them, and can often speak a little to their question even if it is not my area. This also comes in handy when faced with chatting up individuals at events. Knowing what those around you do builds confidence because you no longer have to fear the unanswerable question.
- Coping mechanisms. When you are surrounded by people that function highly, it inevitably rubs off. Everyone has a different way of dealing with difficult situations and watching how others on your team deal can help you gain perspective about how you can handle similar situations in the future.
- Perspective. I think this is one of my favorite parts of being on a team. No matter what you are going through, at work or at home, your teammates can help you see it from a different side. Learning from those with different backgrounds and watching them in action can really help you do your job hundreds of times better.
So, the next time someone calls me up and refers to the time "LHS" worked with them, I will consider myself lucky to be part of a team. A team that considers it a success if no one knows our names.
Karen DePauw is the coordinator of Local History Services. Her delight in logic puzzles comes in handy when it is time to book traveling exhibitions and organize other aspects of what LHS has to offer. But she mostly loves seeing the artifacts and meeting those telling Indiana's story, plus the opportunity to get out of the office and see the state is always welcome!