xmen team

Everybody knows that researchers are basically superheroes, right?

This blogpost isn’t about  teamworking or team roles or even managing a team. If you’re looking for these, turn back! Or, at least, have a squiz at some of the other excellent posts on the Think ahead blog.

This post is simply an invitation to you to consider who, on a basic level, is on your side? Who’s got your back? Who can you turn to for support when you’re struggling? In short: who’s on your team?

Evidence shows that having strong social support networks improves resilience to stress, yet academic research can feel isolating (and stressful!), whether you’re working on a collaborative project or on your own; identifying people that you can turn to for support – whether formally, or informally – is incredibly important.When you think about the people on your team, your mind might go straight to the actual members of your academic team – your PI/supervisor, other researchers, professional services colleagues; the people you work with on a day-to-day basis. But, actually, your “team” – the people who’ve got your back – can come from all sorts of places, and different, objective perspectives can be really helpful if you’re having a tough time.

I’m very lucky to be a part of several supportive, challenging (in a good way!) and downright great teams, as part of my job; I know that if I need to talk something through or just to go “ARGH!” over a coffee, I can. I don’t actually sit with any of my direct teams, however, so the fantastic people I do share an office space with, are also “on my team”, in the sense that they’re supportive, decent and inspiring. It makes a massive difference.

Your support network obviously extends way beyond your work environment, so take some time to think about the people in your personal life  – your friends, family and partners. Are they on your team? If not, why not?

Finally, the inevitable, cheesy thing about teams is that if someone’s on YOUR team, you’re also on THEIR team; how can you support someone in your ‘team’, if they’re struggling? Time to Change has some great advice about how to check in on your mates if you think they might be having a hard time.

Aaaannd, this is as close as I’m prepared to get to THAT Jerry Springer sign off. 🙂

Image credit here