We learn to play and be a part of teams from the moment we are born. In the beginning the “team” is your family; mom, dad and your siblings. When we start to venture out into the world, other teams come into play. Teams and being a part of a team is a huge part of school life and we learn to participate and contribute to a team of one sort, or another, throughout the years we are attending school. There are all kinds of teams in school. It can be sports, or a science lab, cheerleading or a photography project like putting together the yearbook.
When we leave school the next team we join is one at work.
Up until now, teams and teamwork has been gentle with us. If we failed to adapt to any of the teams from our childhood, we were always given second chances. We were always given the opportunity to try again until we got it right. We were encouraged to explore all of the possibilities being on a team afforded us. We are taught that every member of the team is important.
But once we reach the work stage, teamwork takes on a whole different attitude.
At work the concept of behaving like a team becomes clouded with subterfuge and undermining as people start to jockey to be in charge of the team. Money changes the entire team dynamic…if you allow it to.
I have seen this same failure to merge on several occasions and at many different companies. Too many people were quick to blame others and not shoulder responsibility. Employees become disposable and people are let go because someone thinks they found the next greatest thing to take their place. Teams and teamwork fall to the wayside and eventually companies start to go belly up.
If you want to be successful the answer isn’t blaming your employees for the problems, the answer is making an investment in your employees and giving them the tools to make good decisions. It’s also about making them feel secure enough in their job that the need to backbite and make excuses isn’t their knee jerk reaction when things start going wrong. Nobody likes to be blamed, so rather than pointing fingers, perhaps giving the employee the opportunity to own the mistake and to work towards a correction, is a better solution.
If your company’s sales numbers are up and the money is rolling in, but you’ve had a small turnover in your employee base, it’s not wise to start thinking your team leader is at fault right away. Sometimes there’s just an upheaval in staff and it’s unfortunate, but it happens. Sure if he’s losing good employees that’s not a good thing, but when you consider that the employee that leaves might have been holding the company back and it was a good loss, then you have something to work with for the future. Besides I have always believed that when an employee is ready to leave, he stopped being a good employee long before she/ he ever gives you notice of his/her departure.
Unless there’s a massive walkout because the team leader is a raving lunatic tyrant, I’d have to say that staff changing is just a nice exfoliation and could lead to a more promising replacement.
On the other hand, if your company’s sales numbers are low and you have a full and functioning staff, then you might consider that there is a teamwork issue at play and it might not even be the sales team that’s not functioning properly. Your staff can only function with efficiency when other teams that they count on for support, are functioning with efficiency too. For instance, if you have a sales force, but they have no product on the shelves to sell, then who is at fault there? Which team isn’t functioning properly? Is it the sales team in the empty store? Or is it the supplier that can’t ship finished product to fill the shelves?
Teamwork is about functioning as a team and I have seen where some flat management ideas could make a company work much more efficiently as a team. What is flat management? Flat management is simply working as a team. It means everyone communicates their ideas and suggestions and everyone has a voice. There is no wizard hiding behind the curtain with the power to send us home.
It empowers the worker in the workplace to self-supervise in some instances, rather than constantly being micromanaged. It also opens the door for better communication, which eliminates that feeling of powerlessness and insecurity most employees suffer from if their job performance starts to slip a little. An employee is more likely to be straight with you if you are straight with them. They are more likely to come to you before a problem is completely out of control, rather than hide from you because they know the first thing you’ll do it to blame them for the problem, rather than try to find a solution together…as a team.
Believe it or not, but when an employee starts making what you believe to be are excuses, it might behoove you to pay attention to what is being said to you. If it truly is just an excuse, then work from that point to correct the problem. But not all excuses are easily discounted and it’s not an excuse at all, if it’s the truth. Sometimes the devil is in the details and the excuses too.
We all have our bad days. Sometimes it’s a bad week or a bad cycle. It happens. If we could function at 100% perfection all the time, we would be living in Utopia, where life is always sublime and not in Ethiopia, where life is challenging and difficult, even on a good day.
Employees, contrary to the current popular belief, are not disposable.
When you stop and think about the kind of leader you want to be, does it include ruling with an iron fist? Does having a total lack of compassion for human beings appeal to you? Will it be leading, despite how much all of the people working under your command are suffering? Is the bottom line more important to you than the employee that might need to take a short leave of absence to attend a funeral, or get treatment for an illness?
I guess it all comes down to the quality you would like to have in your own life and what keeps you awake at night, because I would have to say that quality and integrity mean more to me than making an extra dollar. But that’s just me.
I must confess that I miss my childhood days as a team player. Those were such idyllic times in comparison. If my adult life could just be that easy, I think the world might be a perfect place. Yes, I do believe it could be.