On Wednesday, September 22nd 2021, the Always Be Coaching series held a live webinar, “Teamwork and Taskwork - What’s the Difference, and Why Does It Matter for Great Coaching?”.
In this fifth session of the webinar + podcast series we heard from Ethan Barhydt and Dr. Samantha Dubrow, a research scientist focused on human-AI collaboration. The two explored the differences between teamwork and taskwork and how to apply them to coach individuals toward better performance. Access the full on-demand webinar, here.
The main topics covered in this session include:
Training, trust, & teamwork in an AI world
Many challenges and exciting opportunities exist for businesses when forming teams that incorporate both AI technology and human team members. One of the largest challenges is in establishing a foundation of trust. Building trust between humans and AI technology is and will continue to be a huge barrier to overcome in order to ensure that the two are collaborating effectively.
In this session, Dr. Dubrow explains that there are three different components that contribute to a foundation of trust. The first component, integrity, refers to knowing that your team member is going to do what they say they are going to do. The second component is benevolence and this focuses on believing that your teammate has your best interests in mind. The final key to trust is competence; do you actually believe that your teammate will do what they say they will, and do you have confidence that they will do it well.
Coaching towards autonomy with human/AI teams
Whether dealing with human or AI team members, there are a variety of phases that teams and coaches go through on their way to the ideal state of autonomy. So, what can we do today to prepare for a successful marriage between human and AI teams? Working with AI machines involves so much more than simply delegating between which tasks humans will perform and which will be assigned to machines. It also involves considering how humans and AI will partner together on individual tasks and how that relationship will work successfully.
This is where the difference between taskwork and teamwork comes into play. When we refer to ‘taskwork’ we are talking about any of the tasks that are involved in simply doing your job. These tasks are typically generic in nature, such as working in a marketing function or using Microsoft Word. Tasks are the activities that apply to how you perform your individual job. Teamwork, on the other hand, is your social relationship with the other people on your team. Teamwork involves individuals with specific tasks coming together to collaborate on a common goal. This can even include the establishment of office culture and working norms of the team.
In coaching teams toward autonomy with AI, it will be important to not only teach your teams and individual reps how to do their job (taskwork), but also to help your team build trust and rapport and a deeper understanding of each other’s goals and values in order to reach shared objectives (teamwork).
Balancing teamwork and taskwork when coaching with AI
How can managers find the best balance of teamwork and taskwork when coaching call center teams? And what added complexities are there if you also have AI team members in the mix?
There are many examples of both taskwork and teamwork existing across the call center floor.
The emphasis of taskwork in call centers often comes in the form of instructing reps what they need to say on the phone, but ultimately there is a large social component to coach/rep and rep/customer interactions. In addition to taskwork, coaches should be thinking about incorporating elements of teamwork across their teams. Coaches can do this by teaching their reps about the different teamwork skills that will be beneficial in their conversations with customers. Dr. Dubrow explains that perspective-taking is one common and valuable teamwork skill that can help reps conduct a mutually-beneficial call that not only reaches the rep’s goals, but also considers the customer’s objectives.
To continue learning how to best apply the teamwork/taskwork framework to improve conversations between coach & rep, and rep & customer, access the full on-demand webinar here.