After my post on the weekend about the Occupy Wall Street Protests I started thinking about the more interactive that we must be with others that have similar Goals and Objectives. We each are faced with working in Groups or Teams in our work place and to think that we can do it all is just not possible. The challenge with Teams is the people that make up the Team. Different personalities, Conflicting Work Ethics and at worst members who are down right lazy.
I looked at what made a good Team Environment and to my surprise it did not really focus on Leadership but on each member holding their own and a special focus on communication. Each member of a team must be able to effectively communication on both an intellectual and emotional level with the rest of the team. This is the number 1 Priority for a successful team here are some tips to establish a solid communications plan:
- can explain their own ideas
- express their feelings in an open but non-threatening way
- listen carefully to others
- ask questions to clarify others’ ideas and emotions
- can sense how others feel based on their nonverbal communication
- will initiate conversations about group climate or process if they sense tensions brewing
- reflect on the activities and interactions of their group and encourage other group members to do so as well
Just as important to the success of a team are certain skills that need to align with the Goals and Objectives of the Team.
- Openness: Group members are willing to get to know one another, particularly those with different interests and backgrounds. They are open to new ideas, diverse viewpoints, and the variety of individuals present within the group. They listen to others and elicit their ideas. They know how to balance the need for cohesion within a group with the need for individual expression.
- Trust and self-disclosure: Group members trust one another enough to share their own ideas and feelings. A sense of mutual trust develops only to the extent that everyone is willing to self-disclose and be honest yet respectful. Trust also grows as group members demonstrate personal accountability for the tasks they have been assigned.
- Support: Group members demonstrate support for one another as they accomplish their goals. They exemplify a sense of team loyalty and both cheer on the group as a whole and help members who are experiencing difficulties. They view one another not as competitors (which is common within a typically individualistic educational system) but as collaborators.
- Respect: Group members communicate their opinions in a way that respects others, focusing on “What can we learn?” rather than “Who is to blame?”
Now these objectives are fine but for many we look at this and think what about Joe or Mary or Sue. We didn’t ask to have them on our team and they always just drag us down and cause internal friction by never really acting as part of the team. Who is to blame when Team Cohesion degrades? I see it as a 50 / 50 split of blame between the Team Leader and the rest of the team. There will never be 100% agreement within a team but at the end of the day, a team must be more than the sum of its parts.
As we begin another week, look to your right, look to your left and then look in a mirror. Who is the weak link in the chain that is the team that you work on? How can you assist that person to become better than they were before? What is the end game for the group that you are a part of?
Yes good leadership can be a binding effect but that is not always a luxury that every group has access to. If you have a leader that fails to lead…it is a failure of the Team if the reigns can not be lifted in spite of the poor leadership.
Don’t wait to be told to do better…own your own destiny. Encourage your partners and teammates to do the same. Its Gut check time and is your team ready for what is coming at you this week and next?
In my life I operate in many teams each with different goals and responsibilities. Sometimes these items conflict with each other. In some groups I take a full Leadership Role, in others I am just part of the Herd but in every instance I try my damnedest to function at top performance because if one does not show the example…then the team does starts to break down. Take your own abilities and look for the multiplier that can be applied. That is the way to move the bar forward.
Well I hope everyone has a great start to the week.
Chris J Powell