Chances are that March Madness is getting your attention over the past couple of weeks. As the ‘final four’ emerge this weekend, we get to watch teams work together like well-oiled machines. They read each other well, anticipate what their teammate is about to do and know where they need to be; and they recognize their individual win is only there because the team is successful. What did it take to achieve this? A LOT of work on the part of each player, clear guidance from the leader and overall, the recognition that the individual’s win only because the team wins. This is the essence of ‘Team Spirit’.
When I’m not watching the games, I have the opportunity to work with individuals in the business world who are a part of a team. One of their biggest sources of frustration is the inability to ‘click’ with other team members. They all know how important strong communication is to accomplishing the team’s goals and tasks. And yet, not clicking gets in the way of this. The curious thing though, is that there is often a tendency to just accept this fact with a shoulder shrug – “oh well … you can’t mesh with everybody”. Sadly, there is a tendency to settle for this as ‘just the way it is’. But wait a second! Isn’t there a cost to “just settling”. Of course there is! As it turns out, the cost is real and potentially significant. And more than that, it’s not necessary. Here are steps that are within each individual’s power to change relationships for the better.
- First … You must buy into the fact that the better the entire team meshes and works well as a team, the more realistic is the ability to reach the goal in the most effective way. If you don’t believe this … STOP reading, as the rest of the steps will be meaningless.
- Second … You must allow yourself to be curious as to what is getting in the way of you “meshing” with your fellow team members.
- Third … you must be willing to identify the issues that you sense with any team member and then … address them. Is your issue based on fact or assumption?
- If based on fact, what would you like to see change and what are you willing to do to make that happen?
- If based on an assumption, you’ve made a judgment that is potentially wrong and you need to ask for clarification. Often the clarification alone clears up the issue.
- Fourth … With clarity about the issue, you now can create an alliance with that person going forward. Creating and maintaining the alliance helps to avoid falling into old habits. You can now confidently move forward in the spirit of cooperation and success.
- What do you want to count on the other person(s) to do, to say or to act and under what circumstances?
- And in exchange, what they can count on you for under the same circumstances?
Good communication requires that we learn to be as good at listening as we are a communicator. Truly exciting is to witness clients who did not “mesh” and just tolerated now soar both individually & as a team. Why? Because they have chosen to move away from tolerating to be positive & intentional about relationships w/fellow team members.
Maybe … just maybe … March Madness can provide the take away that turns into your year-long Gladness!