You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime…
While you might agree that partnering and teaming achieves more and better outcomes than your own two hands alone, how often do you go beyond just accepting that working with others is simply a reality of business life and consciously consider the impact you have on team performance? When you walk into that room with your colleagues do you arrive with a pre-defined view of how things should be done? When you leave that room, do you take the same level of insight and knowledge that you had when you went in? Was your input designed to progress your goals alone or those of the team? What contribution did you make to generate the synergy that champion teams exude; a certain rhythm, where the collective efforts yield a tenfold result through effortless co-ordination between the various parts?
For most, memories of being part of a champion team are sparse and fleeting; a footy team when they were younger, a project group under a particular leader long since moved on, part of a united parental front that resulted in the family becoming closer. Look back. What worked for you about how this team operated? Why was it you could make a strong contribution and feel pride and satisfaction at the results achieved? How were you able to show up at your best? How were the team members able to put the overall collective requirements over their individual needs, goals and concerns? Do a similar review for the teams where you had a tougher experience; the ones where you had the most water-cooler conversations.
Your look-back will probably come up with a number of factors that helped create team magic (or stuffed it up) and, alas, it seems that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for a champion team waiting for us to slavishly replicate and reap the guaranteed rewards. Yes, there may be some basic protocols that help to start things off on the right foot; clarity over the common goal, people knowing their own roles and deliverables, plenty of communication; but what other conditions can help create or, maybe unleash, the synergy that provides a high performing team’s x factor?
We can’t always get what we want, but we will be driven in any situation to get what we need (yes, as we suspected the Rolling Stones had it right all along). And a team of individuals striving to get their own and often conflicting needs met can make turn the concept of teaming into something very ugly and unproductive. Reacting, blaming, being a victim and checking out are all typical behaviours when those things we need to be at our best just aren’t there for us. We may not always be able to articulate these needs ourselves but somehow we seem to expect that others will be able to. When our needs are met we feel fulfilled and engaged and when they aren’t we feel frustrated, under-valued, disengaged or even angry. How can we help the team get to the 10 x when our agenda is focused so inwardly? One important skill we need to learn as a team member is how to be able to proactively and constructively communicate our needs so that colleagues understand our pain rather than seek to judge our actions, and then for us to repay the same courtesy to them. Making a commitment to doing this at an individual level helps create an environment where real conversations are the norm – and avoiding the real conversations is not even thinkable. The result: progress and the conditions for synergy to thrive.
So how can you step up to the plate and do your bit for the whole team and its goals? Getting clear on your own biases and vulnerabilities is a starting point. Where do you need to slow down to bring others along with you and ensure your own impatience doesn’t actually end up making things longer and more complex in the end? Or where do you need to reach out to others sooner and more often so you can bring them on the journey with you rather than setting yourself up with the stress of a fight to get your recommendations approved? Where do you need to be having some real conversations, either with another individual you are clearly struggling to work effectively with; or as part of a team, where you really need protocols in place to help the group as manage common vulnerabilities that are clearly holding you all back, such as follow-through, or spinning, or lack of promotion of your achievements? And, also critical, where do you need to speak up about either how your own strengths and natural talents are being under-used or where you can see others are clearly round pegs being forced into square holes and opportunities lost as a result?
Being proactive and speaking up around all these things, requires you to stick your neck out for the team, looking beyond your individual focus. Presenting solutions along with problems; not making others past actions wrong but focusing on future actions to drive even better results; acknowledging what has been achieved and progress made to date; and letting other s know your intention behind raising the tougher stuff is to help the team move forward, are all ways in which you can help to create an environment where synergy can thrive: if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need.

Author's Bio: 

Jessica Jacques
Senior Consultant
Link-up Consulting

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