Excellence in teamwork


Student Team Performance works across Royal Roads, supporting students, faculty and staff in delivering and learning successful teamwork practices. In keeping with the culture of Royal Roads to capture excellence in action, we interviewed a successful team to acknowledge them, and find out what their processes to success were.

Team Dynamite was what they called themselves and “dynamite” was how their instructor, Athena Madden described their work. Online environments can add to the complexity of teamwork dynamics, but it doesn’t have to. This team, comprised of students from masters programs in Humanitarian Studies, put the effort in to create high performing teamwork.    

The following were the highlights of what Aaron Chamberlain (HSPB), Ambreen Qazi (DEM), Dean Clark (DEM), Robyn Jacobsen (CAM) and Nick Bouchard (DEM) did and discovered:  

What did your team do to create a powerful journey of teaming?

  • We spent time developing a comprehensive team agreement  (1.5 hours)
  • We sent it to our instructor to enhance the accountability of the agreement
  • We committed to a weekly meeting and stuck to it
  • We maintained efficiency and stress by reducing emails/texts
  • Respectful relationships were key that included an accountability structure
  • We held our  team as highly important, and kept all individuals involved
  • We rotated roles, especially one called “discussion leader” 
  • We prepared for each meeting
  • We built psychological safety through thoughtfulness and kindness

What was the benefit of having worked in teams here at Royal Roads?

  • We were grateful for the opportunity to explore diverse ideas with those from a variety of backgrounds

What team skills were enhanced that will prove useful moving forward?

  • Learning about  the power of listening
  • A solid structure to explore all ideas
  • Shared leadership is a powerful process
  • Learning to slow down to bring out the quieter voices in the room to capture their rich ideas

Any recommendations for Royal Roads instructors/staff/team coaches about team learning?

  • Realize when a team is failing and be prepared to help guide the group through it
  • Instructors should know what options are available for teams in distress
  • Spend time early in the course on team topics like the ‘groan zone’ and strategies for students to move through this
  • Be available to teams in a timely fashion
  • Have team coaches come in and give reminders about team dynamics and planning in the early stages of courses

What were key course design elements that supported teamwork?

  • Case study stepped process
  • Check-in schedule
  • Templates to assist with more productive conversations