How often do we work on teams and find ourselves frustrated with team members?
How do you handle it?
For many of us, we are probably the ones carrying the extra work load or ensuring everyone stays organized. But, sometimes we are the ones that might not be our best selves or contributing all that we had hoped.
I had an experience, a humbling experience, when I wasn’t the best teammate. I had to apologize. I showed up not as prepared as I would have liked. I had a migraine coming on. I also had a whole lot of “other stuff” going on.
I apologized. The team was one that I didn’t know well, so being vulnerable wasn’t easy. I sent an email after the meeting, apologizing again. We met a second time. I apologized again. The experience wasn’t good and I felt terrible.
It reminded me of a few things…
One – don’t make assumptions.
How often do we make assumptions about people? The point of accountability is to speak directly to someone, to go directly to someone when we have an issue. It is very possible our assumptions aren’t correct.
Two – don’t talk about others when they aren’t around, talk directly to them.
When we choose to talk about others without including them in the conversation, when we choose to solve the problems that involve someone else without including them in the conversation or the solution – we will never create an environment where people can be their best selves or where we find the best solutions.
Side note – I get it. For years I thought so many things were easier if I just did them myself. Relationships were better if conversations were avoided. But, I was wrong.
If we personally need to discuss something, we have to have the difficult conversation with the person. We have to ask the peer, co-worker or employee about the deliverable, the issue or the situation.
If someone comes to us about another person, we have to ask them if they first had a conversation with the other person. We can’t let them talk about others when the other isn’t there to defend themself. We have to shut it down and refuse to listen. We have to encourage and mentor that person to go to the other person and have the conversation.
Three – allow others to do things their way, it might not be our way but it might also be better.
Know that by always doing things ourself, no one else ever learns, builds confidence and no one else is ready to step up should something happen.
Accountability is hard, but it is also beautiful. It isn’t always the leader that holds the team accountable, peers holding each other accountable is the sign of the most productive teams. Leaders should foster this kind of team.