Sometimes when we are preparing to do a team-building workshop, we interview the participants in advance. It helps us discern what the problems are and how we can help the team work together more effectively. I usually ask the question, “In your opinion, what’s the real problem on this team?”
I have heard a wide range of responses, including everything from management to closed minds and apathy. However, there’s one thing I’ve never heard anyone say. No one has ever said, “Mike, to be honest, I am the real problem.” No one has ever even said something like, “Maybe it’s me,” or “I may be part of the problem.” Instead, many people feel like they should be nominated as the MVP. They are just puzzled that no one else sees it that way.
I saw the title of a workshop session recently called, “What’s it like to work for you?” My guess is that the presenter would try to get us to consider the possibility that maybe it’s not quite as wonderful as we imagine. All of this has made me think that part of developing better self-awareness means putting more emphasis on self-critique. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves, “Am I really the team player that I think I am?”
Here are some questions that might be worth using to have an honest conversation with yourself.
- Do I extend trust to others?
- Can people really trust me to always put the team ahead of myself?
- Can I be trusted with sensitive information?
- If everyone followed my example, would this team function smoothly?
- Do I handle conflict in a realistic way?
- Do I seek the win-win in conflict, or do I seek the “I must win” in conflict?
- Do I give the support to other people’s vision that I want them to give to mine?
- Do I emotionally buy in to what the team is doing, even if it wasn’t my idea?
- Do I make other people’s jobs easier?
- Does my attitude encourage others?
- If everyone else worked the way I do, would this team be better?
Sometimes I ask groups the question, “When does a team become a team?” The best answer I have ever received is, “A team becomes a team when everyone is pulling in the same direction, and no one cares who gets credit for success.” In a similar way, I think it’s possible that a team starts moving from the dysfunctional stage to the recovery stage when every person ruthlessly asks, “What would it be like to work with or for me?”
By the way, I suspect that if the answer to every question above is a slam dunk “ABSOLUTELY,” you might be the problem.