What’s it Going to be – Team Work

So there is a show that my 3 1/2 year old son likes to watch with some household rodent pets that sing a song and talk about "Team Work".  Enclosed is Thomas singing this for our entertainment.  He and I are always singing the song and talking about conflict resolution (talking instead of yelling or hitting)
… but I digress…
I think that second to communications management, the next best extra special secret sauce to project management is the ability to foster teamwork and development.

Last week I was away on course and they had us often working in small and medium sized teams.  I found this very fun and also a great opportunity to look at overall team dynamics.  I think this is where the true art is paramount.

We all I think in general feel the importance of being team members/players, but often that conflicts with the need to get things done, delegate, be delegated to, jointly brainstorm and generally feel appreciated.

Maybe it was the nature of my course, but I saw a group of people who seemed well atuned to the situation.  Even when during a mock meeting one of the actors went in a direction (probably different from the teams original plan) I saw people quickly rally around the learnings of the change versus – hey that’s not what you were supposed to do.  Very surprising if you had seen the situation.

On the other side of team dynamics was leadership and the importance of the leader of the initiative (generally someone who is not involved in the process regularly) to clearly articulate objectives, while leaving the team room to figure things out on their own.

Just some early musings on Teamwork as I imagine this is going to be a critical issue as we grow.  So let me know your thoughts.

  1. Jim Reply

    By the way you spoke about an enclosure of Thomas singing that I did not see.

  2. Jim Reply

    One of the challenges of a leaders is to listen to those who disagree with their opinion. However I think it is really important to listen and thank the person for their opinion. I am not sure I was really that good at that. I recall my friend, Colin, speaking of how important it was to validate the desenting opinion and the difficult question. You do not need to agree but ackowledge the validity of the position.
    I wish I had done better at that.

  3. Stephen Reply

    Thanks for the comment. I had the priveledge to work for some former US military folks in the past and I concur about your observations.
    The addition of the “All Stop” is critical and is a major mantra I try to instill in our teams. I remember being in a project early in my career and worked for a company that followed this ideal and it felt very rewarding to be able to contribute as opposed to waiting and telling your fellow associated – “told you so”.
    As part of a team we all have a responsibility to align to the overall objective not just our tasks. The challenge I find specifically in IT is that we seem to have techie people who feel that passive aggressive behaviour is valid and that goes against the whole idea.
    By the way this post was done by me and I was only tagging Robert as I referenced him in my post.

  4. Morgan Goeller Reply

    As a 20-year old I was fortunate to spend 4 years in the center of the finest teamwork and leadership academy in the world, the United States Marine Corps. Virtually everything that I have learned about working with other people has come out of that experience, and I am definitely the better for it.
    One of the most powerful lessons I learned was that the attitude of the entire organization is communicated through the treatment of its lowest ranking members.
    For example, when out in the middle of the jungle, we got hot food once a day. Always, the unit lined up to eat in order of reverse rank. That is, the newest person ate first, then the team leaders, then the NCO’s, then the officers, and last of all the Commander.
    If they ran out of food (which wasn’t unheard of) the highest ranking people ate MRE’s or skipped altogether. I saw Colonels skip dinner after hiking 20 miles so that a Private could have seconds. This simple tradition speaks volumes on the percieved value of the Marine to the Corps as a whole.
    Another example was that in an operation of any scale, ANY person could stop the entire shebang if there was a safety violation. I have seen numerous instances where a low-ranking person saw something they didn’t like, spoke up, and was heartily congratulated for it EVEN IF THERE WASN’T A REAL PROBLEM. This way of operating tells everyone that their opinion was very valuable to the organization as a whole and that there are good mistakes that can be made.
    Also, a couple of maxims we lived by were:
    “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” — all of these options are acceptable in different situations, but you have to choose one.
    “Life is tough. It’s even tougher when you’re stupid.” — be accountable to yourself and to others. Improve yourself and the world around you.
    Good luck!

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