Businesspeople planning tasks with sticky notes

Have you ever been involved with a work team, where everyone wants to assign the blame or cause of the problem to someone else? Or maybe they label their fellow team members as lazy or incompetent, overly analytical or stuck in the details. Better yet, maybe they call the project stupid, infeasible, or out of touch with the day-to-day reality of employees or clients.

What would happen if teams did the opposite of name calling, blaming, and labeling, and instead, accepted where they were are and owned the challenge of working together to successfully complete a goal?

When I worked in the world of corporate quality, I remember amazing examples of what process improvement teams accomplished when they all worked together. Some aspects these teams had in common; they treated each other with respect and stayed open to innovative ways of solving a problem or achieving a stretch goal.

While process improvement teams may work across a small number of company functions, consider the number of organizations involved in releasing a product to market. There are team members who represent product design, development, testing, marketing, selling, pricing, distribution, and product support, among others. The different requirements of these organizations could result in difficult conversations. However, if the team members accept the goal and respect each other needs, identifying a realistic outcome and a path to achieve it would more likely come from collaborative conversation. Acceptance also supports the team in knowing when a goal is unrealistic or when there are obstacles that need additional support from individuals and groups outside of the team members.

While some amount of disagreement is part of the storming phase of team development, over time teams move into a more productive phase.

  • Unhappy about being on the team – accept the assignment or ask to be replaced
  • Triggered by someone on the team – accept you are triggered and then have a conversation with that person or yourself
  • Frustrated by being unable to meet your goal – accept there is an issue, then brainstorm the obstacles and way to resolve them

If you find yourself challenged to accept the team situation, ponder what would happen if you:

  • Shifted your perspective from looking at the team’s goal as a waste of time, to an opportunity to learn something new?
  • Explored collaboration with someone whose personality type triggers you, as a way to create a more robust outcome?
  • Considered that the obstacles you encounter might allow you to hone your problem solving skills and expand your creativity?

Consider for a moment that every person you meet enriches your experience and every experience you have provides an opportunity to learn. If you are still triggered, frustrated, or unhappy with your fellow team members, it may be time for a 30-minute clarity to determine if coaching could shift your perspective.

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