80% of respondents to an Accenture survey from 483 organisations believe people issues are much more important today than they were just three years ago.
Do you realize that we are able to acheive much more than we ever have before through finding common pathways of understanding, recognizing different talents, combining resources, and sharing roles.
Daniel Goldman calls this “emotional intelligence”, and he believes emotional intelligence will probably be the greatest measure of competence and creative excellence in the future. Effectively being able to partner with others, to form relationship networks, is the necessary foundations for future growth and development.
At the Transformational Group we spend a lot of time helping people to discover how relationships and teams can be developed more effectively. We have found that many individuals become disabled by difficulties in their relationships, on a personal and business level. The levels of frustration can be so high that when we suggest taking a collaborative approach to problem solving or performance, the general responses can be summarized in an exaggerated roll of the eyes and a deep sigh, and a “It won’t work, they are too…..”
Some accuse others of being too selfish, too territorial, too angry, too arrogant, etc
So many people have come to believe that it is impossible to work in harmony with others and achieve superior results. Individualistic competition can prevail over collaboration because, these people say, “It is simply easier to go ahead on your own than to try to accommodate the opinions and habits of others”. But these same people soon discover that they are limited in what they can achieve on their own.
THE STAKES ARE HIGH
The average person interacts with a wide range of people on a daily basis and for a variety of reasons. Our interpersonal relationships affect the way we function, and actually help define who we are. We are often defined in relation to others – as a wife or husband, a brother or sister, an employee or employer, a provider or customer. If we can’t perform these roles successfully, there can be consequences in all areas of our lives. Our self-esteem, our sense of identity, our feelings of fulfillment, our productivity – these can all be enhanced significantly through improving the ways we relate to others. Fulfilled individuals, positive groups, and successful organisations all depend on the ability to get on well with others and cooperate successfully with them.
Many of us would rather paddle our own canoes rather than get into a raft and learn to paddle with others. Worse still are those people who, when in a raft, continue to paddle as if they are in a single canoe.
The sadness is that many of us continue on in a short-sighted manner, acting independently most of the time and only seeking true team work and cooperation when it is directly advantageous to us. Of course others see straight through this ploy and reject our overtures.
Focusing on how to work successfully with others is a critical skill for success, at all levels.
Here are 3 ways to focus yourself to work cooperatively with others:
1.SEEK STRENGTHS NOT WEAKNESSES
We cannot all play the same instrument, but we can all be in the same key. Learning to play in the same key, to work in harmony is the most important thing we can achieve together.
The key is recognising where the strengths and weaknesses lie – or building awareness – and then ensuring there are strategies to mitigate the weaknesses and enhance strengths.
The great advantage of the group is that there is a combined strength, which can add up to so much more and achieve so much more. Learning to trust in the group means that you are learning to believe in the power of combined energy.
A simple exercise is to identify what others in your team are better than you at. There will be some things they are better than you at because of experience, age, education, personalities or natural abilities (and visa versa). When identifying strengths go beyond technical skills, push into the parts of their personality, outlook, or approach to things.
Once you have identified strengths in others do two things: get curious about how they do it. Ask them to teach you. It might be a skill or a mindset.
Secondly, ask if you can leverage their skill. Explain what you see and ask if you can call on them when it is appropriate. For instance, there was someone in a team I once lead who was very clear thinking, but took their time to process their thoughts. Often in a meeting I noticed this person wouldn’t say much but when they did they cut through all the arguments and got to the heart of the matter. I told them the strength I saw and asked if near the end of meetings if I could call on them to summaries the conversation and propose a way forward. This approach honoured their strengths and gave the team confidence that we would move beyond talk to action.
2.SEEK AN EMPHASIS ON TEAM FOCUSED GOALS
Where people are unable to get on with others, there is often a problem with simply focusing on individual needs and concerns rather than also taking those of others into account.
The welfare of the individual often takes precedence over the welfare of the group as a whole. Groups that are having problems often consist of individuals who are acting as single strands. In the working context, Senge calls this “skilled incompetence”. Senge says, “All too often, teams in business tend to spend their time fighting for turf, avoiding anything that will make them look bad personally, and pretending that everyone is behind the team’s collective strategy – maintaining the appearance of a cohesive team… the consequence is skilled incompetence – teams full of people who are incredibly proficient at keeping themselves from learning.”
The more we build walls around us to protect ourselves the harder it is to relate to each other effectively. It is only through dropping those barriers and reaching out to others that relationships become constructive.
Identify the clear 90-day focus for the team and the potential clashes of agenda’s. When you can name the competition for resources, naming the potential for people to get self-focused, it disarms a silent assassin. My experience is that when we bring things to the light, we can build greater trust and accountability.
Once you have a clear 90 day plan, ask each person what they are going to contribute to make the #1 priority to be accomplished.
3.SEEK DIVERSITY NOT UNIFORMITY
We are naturally attracted to those who are like us, who share our opinions and ideas. We feel comfortable with these people, we understand them and they understand us. We often like to live within our carefully constructed and protected social comfort zones.
Groups that form naturally will also often consist of similar types of people. This is how we form leisure groups, but it is also how cliques form in work teams. While there may be a certain degree of cohesiveness in groups, made up of like-minded people, there can be complacency and a lack of stimulation. Homogenous groups, or groups, made up of similar types of people, may also compete with each other or may all end up making the same mistake.
In many other situations in life, such as in the work environment, we can’t choose the groups we are in and we may well have to work alongside others who do not share the same values. Diverse groups are often more productive and successful. A basic core of similarity certainly helps, particularly in the areas of visions, values and goals, but variety is also definitely the spice of groups. Different opinions and ideas can lead to more creative problem solving. There can be higher levels of motivation within these groups, and more willingness to support others because they are contributing to the group success in ways, which some others are not able to do.The energy inherent in heterogeneous groups must be harnessed and utilised effectively to ensure it does not become destructive, which can easily happen. Once there is a core of acceptance and understanding of these differences, however, the outcomes can be amazing.
When recruiting seek out people who have similar personalities but have different personalities, skill sets or experiences to others in the team
Create a culture of challenging ideas and thinking about things from different perspectives.
SUMMING IT ALL UP
Maybe you realize that you have given up being a team player: you don’t embrace diversity, focus on people’s weaknesses, work in isolation, focusing on your own work and not team goals.
Challenge your assumptions and approach. You really do need others to achieve more and your ability to relate well with others is crucial will help or hinder.