“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is a success” — Henry Ford
Here is my take on solving challenges to create pathways for a greater team journey — It is the fantastic outcomes achieved, that matter if we don’t mind sharing the credits, challenges, learning, and growth.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of my current or previous employers.
At various stages of our careers and life journey, we spend long hours at work, often, more than with family members. A bunch of us are lucky to have a great company at work. Such good relationships are often motivators to get us to places each day. Just as in personal relationships, the people we connect to and spend time with, influence who we are, and also shape our future values. So are work relationships! Many of us become lifelong friends, while we contribute towards a greater cause and impact.
The relationship either ignites or cools off. Respecting each other, not judging, knowing and acknowledging boundaries, being aware of self and others' strengths and weaknesses, and being able to lean on each other to strengthen the journey builds trust, creates rapport, and drives positivity.
Having common goals, commitment to impact, and vigor to deliver outcomes brings the group together. The struggles everyone faces bind the group, often creating cohesive group dynamics.
When someone in the group does not agree to the common goal and commitments, either due to conflict with personal interests or other work-based political needs, the spark dies. Oftentimes, negative people tend to be good yet show sabotaging behaviors, which can kill the group. Identifying such individuals in the group or organization quickly is critical to providing a healthy environment for the group to thrive.
Be authentic, by spirit, words, and actions. For a group to thrive, everyone in the group must stop the blame game, and stop escalating challenges without trying everything possible.
There is always some room left for supporting each other, achieving results, and growing together. When the group realizes that it must be forward-looking; have clarity about common goals, be aligned on the intent, and be focused on the impact they care and can create, the group is on the pathway of high-impact.
At every step, intentionally create an environment where trust thrives. For example, many of us complain about each other, and this takes us nowhere. Often resulting in annoying or toxic situations. Instead, being willing to be forgiving about the behavior, understanding the context, environment, parameters, and intent, and trying to work things out as a group builds trust and creates an environment where everyone is respected, supported, and can grow.
Lack of trust: Team members don’t have to wait until trust is earned. From day 1 and each day thereafter, everyone must assume good intent. Each day, it is on everyone to demonstrate that we’re all marching towards the end goal, which helps build rapport, define the steps to the end goal, measure the traction, and evaluate the risks. When the mutual trust is thin, every measure taken will be scrutinized, and often questioned for alignment w.r.t to the end goal and priorities.
Bureaucracy: Great teams demonstrate being intentional about the purpose and the spirit of running the business as a chief at every level. The moment boundaries are drawn, and everyone starts talking about ownership, roles, and responsibilities, you can take it as a sign of sailing in the wrong direction. While roles and responsibilities provide ownership and accountability, it must be in the team spirit and on each of your shoulders to look at the vision and mission and steer everyone to the goal. Such a model, helps the team to lean on each other when needed. However, everyone must commit to own and take accountability. Empowerment and leadership must be enabled at every level.
Blame Game: Each day, the team charter, its mission, and vision must be the driving force. The only thing that matters is what the team delivers. The moment team members start blaming, shifting accountability, and not doing their part; the team culture deteriorates.
Unwillingness to support: When the common goals cannot be reached because someone is not aligned with the end goal, is finding ways to sabotage, is prioritizing individual needs over the team goals, is constantly complaining without a resolution, is motivated by work politics, things either slow down or fail. Everyone must be aligned on the principle “Disagree, yet commit to outcomes and deadlines”.
Wrong priorities: Business priorities change, and the teams must adapt. Forgetting the business, its customers, and the scale while focusing on something else would send everything in the wrong direction. In matrix-style organizations, getting alignment on priorities leads to a lack of support and eventual failure to complete goals.
It is a team sport. The group wins/loses ultimately. Every day, every team member must take accountability and must be willing to steer each other in the right direction. Be forgiving, and use the end goal as a driver.
Remember that the pie is large enough for each of us to have a satisfactory meal.