Recently, I was working with a team of people and they did not know each other personally or professionally. There was a lack of trust because they had no idea how their jobs related with their “team mate’s” jobs. This is so amazing to me but once I learned the dynamics — I now understood how this happened and how common and prevalent this type of team is in the business world.
“Sure, I know my job and how to do my job”, said Mary. I had no doubts. Mary seemed competent and her boss, Jennifer, gushed about how quickly Mary creates her reports. In fact, Jennifer said her entire team of millennials was engaged in their jobs and got their tasks done efficiently. They seemed to always want more to do. So what could go wrong with this efficient team? It seems they were not a team. They were a group of people doing their own tasks and not talking to each other at all. They also complained to Jennifer about the others. She heard such things as; Jeff is always out of the office, Mary never talks to anyone – she is anti-social and Greg is always criticizing everyone.
I spoke to some of the team members before our “training” and heard these complaints. I realized that they did not know each other’s personalities or jobs. The day we met everyone seemed very upbeat and eager to figure out what this “training” was all about. They all were interested in making the team better but they were not sure how to do this since they did not trust the other members of the team. We started with a simple exercise just to have each person share a bit about themselves. It is a creative exercise where each person draws, writes or colors something about their family, work philosophy, what they do at work, and hobbies. It was amazing how receptive everyone was to get a chance to learn more about their co-workers and teammates. During lunch (we ate together) people actually asked questions, shared stories and laughed with each other (not at each other). For some reason, they never had a chance to get to know each other. They were “too busy” working on their own projects. Most assumed that the boss, Jennifer, wanted them to get their tasks done and not talk to each other.
Just this one exercise turned the tide on the dynamics of this team. Of course, I am still working with Jennifer about how to communicate her goals and working philosophy with her team. But, the team seems happier, they talk and there is not such a trust issue any more.
Say or do one nice thing for one of your team members today. Don’t expect anything in return. Just start to build that relationship. They do not have to be your BFF (best friend forever) but starting a respectful workplace relationship will lead to less stress for you and better collaboration for all on your team.