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Teamwork - The perfect partnership
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 03/16/2015

Teamwork b The following is an installment in "The Bouchard 101", a series featuring "Ice Breaker's" designed to promote training awareness and capabilities in the corrections industry.

Division is everywhere. We do not always get along. And in corrections, this is more than just a disappointment. Fighting between colleagues means danger in the facilities.

All is not lost. The dangers that come with staff division are repaired with an atmosphere of teamwork.

What is teamwork? It is when at least two people work together for the same goal. For example, the goal can be to get from on place to another. Teamwork is achieved when one person drives the vehicle and another gives directions to the driver. Teamwork can be as simple a two person team collaborating to change a flat tire. Or it can be as involved as a multi-year, multi-nation war effort.

Whether it is just two colleagues or hundreds of millions of people, teamwork can be defined in very few words: support, help collaboration, joint effort, cooperation, solidarity, and assistance.

Think of a world without teamwork. Civilization as we know it would not exist. There would be no scientific advances. Language would be an individual thing. There would be no culture transmitted. The family unit would not exist in the sense that we are familiar with. It would be a dog eat dog world. The human race, if not wiped out, would be reduced to individual animals.

Corrections would be a mess without teamwork. The state inside our facilities would be complete anarchy. One of the common goals of corrections is to keep prisoners, staff and the public safe at all times. Helping one another in corrections is not just a nice gesture. It can mean the preservation of life.

A simple way to demonstrate teamwork is in the basic one on one interview. If you think about it, this is a two person team whose goal is to exchange information. Have one person ask the following questions and one person answers them. Allow the other participants to act as observers. Have them to note the dynamics and dual effort of the following:
  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Tell me something about a past job.
  3. What is your best strength?
  4. Tell me about your weakness.
  5. Would you rather be a hammer or a nail?
  6. Why do you want this job?
  7. Do you have any problem working on weekends?
  8. Who is your hero?
  9. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  10. What one thing should I remember about you when you leave this interview?
After the interview, it is important to ask the observers what they saw. Here are some sample questions:
  • Was there a fair amount of give and take?
  • Was there a teamwork atmosphere?
  • Was there tension?
  • Did the interviewer help the other person by explaining questions as needed?
Anti-team option - Of course, an anti-interview can be planned, as well. Prior to the module, you can pre-select two participants to purposely act in difficult ways toward each other. There are many possibilities, the angry interviewer, the bored interviewer, the passive-aggressive interviewee, etc. The sky is the limit. And this is an effective way to show the difference between good teamwork and horrible cooperation.

Joe Bouchard is a Librarian employed with the Michigan Department of Corrections and a collaborator with The International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP). He is also the author of “IACTP’s Corrections Icebreakers: The Bouchard 101, 2014”. The installments in this series include his opinions. The agency for which he works is not in any way responsible for the content or accuracy of this material, and the views are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of the agency. While some material is influenced by other works, all of the icebreakers have been developed by Joe Bouchard.

Visit the Joe Bouchard page

Other articles by Bouchard:


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