My team sucks! I’m sure we’ve all felt that way at times. We’ve probably all been on teams in which either we are the ones carrying the load, or there is that one person that never pulls his/her weight, or, for some reason, no one can get along.
No matter what the situation, there are some things you may consider that will help your team to be more successful, and it starts with how you speak about other members of the team.
Don’t trash talk your teammates
An article at Inc. entitled Harvard Research Shows Talking About Your Co-Workers in This Way Is Extremely Important to Teamwork references research from Harvard University indicating talking favorably about co-workers (team members) “increases general feelings of being socially valued by others, leading to better information exchange and creative performance.”
The article goes on to suggest a few things you and your fellow team members should practice, including:
- Back ’em up when they’re knocked down.
- Spread positive gossip.
- Mold impressions at moments of entry and exit.
- Help forge their unique team role.
- Find out what they’re evaluated on and help it along.
Number 2 and 3 sound a little less than authentic, but numbers 1, 4, and 5 are good solid, bits of advice. But at the core, look for positive things to say. If you can’t talk favorably about your teammates, just don’t talk poorly about them.
Take a look in the mirror
Is it possible you are contributing to the degradation of team performance? You may need to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask some tough questions of yourself.
Another article at Inc., this one entitled, 3 Personality Traits With the Biggest Impact on Teamwork, suggests you do the following:
- Be vulnerable. Ask stupid questions.
- Be comfortable challenging the others.
- Be confident enough to accept feedback.
Know the collective goal
It’s all too tempting to immediately jump in to problem solving when faced with challenges, but it is far more effective to analyze the challenge first, determine what the collective goal is, and then work toward a solution.
As an example, perhaps you’ve been on a team in a classroom or educational environment. Your team is given an assignment to write a paper, solve a problem, or analyze a case assignment. Your team meets to immediately begin brainstorming solutions and handing out assignments.
You come back together to consolidate the work only to find it is a colossal mess.
Chances are high that you did not collectively come to an agreement on what the true challenge is. Sometimes that lies below the surface of whatever the challenge statement is. Sometimes it requires more discussion to understand the true nature of the challenge. Sometimes we just individually hear the words differently when a challenge statement is presented to us. Whatever the case, it is worth the time to do a little analysis before working on the solution.
Chances are also high that expectations were not set and agreed upon. As a very simple example, one team member’s goal may be simply to get the work done – check the box. Another member’s goal may be to develop the most brilliant, arguably the best team project work in the class or at the company.
Clearly, these two goals will be in conflict. Eliminate that potential ahead of time by formally agreeing to the team goals, despite individual desires.
Most importantly, play nice. As Grandma used to say, you attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.