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Sunday, February 25, 2007

How to Know Your Teammates in a Deeper Sense

Read to the end, there are a lot of goodies in this article.

Trust is the foundation of teamwork. Want me to explain? Who are the people you like to work with the most, people who are really good at what they do? I doubt it. The most likely answer to this question is... dyaraaaan!!! the people you trust. The people you trust may not necessarily be the best person for the job but you like working with them because you understand their strengths and weaknesses and you feel that despite their imperfections they are well meaning and that they have your good and the good of the team in their minds.

When you trust people and that trust is reciprocated, working together is a lot easier. Communication becomes very open, managing conflict and collaborating becomes a lot easier. Lack of trust on the other hand, makes it difficult to communicate, for how do you communicate with people you do not trust? And since communication plays a vital role in working as a team, lack of it can cause the team to fall apart. Trust therefore is very important if the team is to work effectively towards achieving its goals.

Next question, who do you trust? Answer, the people you know and have confirmed to be “good people” not because of what they are capable of but because of their motives. It is therefore fairly important for you to know the people you work with. When I say know, I don’t mean demographic. It has to be much deeper than that. You need to understand their strengths and their weaknesses, both admitted and denied ones. You need to know what they think of themselves as much as how other people perceive them. Since people are like mirrors, you are likely to get as much as you give. It works that way.

Knowing your teammates in a deeper sense can also help you a lot in dealing with them. I heard of stories of managers who keep a charted profile of their team members that they consult to determine how to best approach them. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses also help them capitalize on a teammate’s strength and help in overcoming the weaknesses.

When I facilitate teambuilding activities, I find four exercises that help enhance team members’ awareness of each other. The discussion of JOHARI Window by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, The “ Coat of Arms Disclosure Activity,” The use of team personality inventory like Belbin Team Role Inventory or a type indicator like Keirsey Temperament Sorter or MBTI. And the exercise I call “I like you because, I will like you better if.” I hope you find these tips useful.

  • The JOHARI Window is a great metaphor to describe our personality. I suggest that you click the link to know more about it and find out how you can use it. It serves as my launch pad for all my “getting to know you” exercises.

  • The Belbin Team Role Inventory or MBTI can also help you learn more not only about your teammates but also about yourself. I found some downloadable questionnaires on the web on this subject matter. Please click the link to download them. Word of warning. These tools just like any other are best used by trained individuals. So I suggest that you carefully consider how you are going to use them.

  • The Coat of Arms is a diagram resembling a, well, coat of arms. I picked up a similar exercise somewhere and came up with my own version which I divided into five areas, strengths, weaknesses, what motivates me, what ruin my motivation and what I value as a person. You don’t need to have this downloaded, just use your imagination. AYT?

  • The " I Like You Because, I Will Like You Better If" exercise is fairly easy but should be done with great care as it can lead to disaster. if not. You've probably seen several versions of this. I divide bond papers into two sections and then label hald " I like you because..." and then label the other half "I will like you better if..." I stick a paper at the back of each participant and ask everyone to give "constructive and helpful" feedbacks to their teammatesThree things are important when you do this. You have to remind people that this is not a way to tell people about your past hurts, its a way of giving constructive feedback so a "helping attitude" is quite important. It is also important for the receiver of the feedback to take everything with a grain of salt so to speak. It helps to remind them that the constructiveness of the message do not depend on the giver but on the receiver of feedback. Oh and please remind them not to put to punch the period too hard. :)

These exercises can definitely help when done properly. They are regular staples in my teambuilding workshops because I believe in the importance of this effort to know your team. You shouldn't have to do these exercises everyday of course in order to familiarize with your team. The most important thing is to continue to build an open channel of communication and a continuing effort to know your teammates better. Why, because It builds trust.

If you need help in getting to know everyone in your team better, you know who to call! :)

See you next post!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you Ed.

    Last week's ODPN GMM talk focused on the book "The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything" by Stephen M. Covey. I was impressed with the overview provided by the speaker and I'm planning to buy the book and distribute it to our managers.

    The book promises to present a road map to establish trust on every level, build character and competence, enhance credibility, and create leadership that inspires confidence.


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