I just returned from training another great southeast firm and I’m really pleased with how the leadership team is developing. They have made significant strides in what it means to work together, rely on each other and accomplish great things for themselves, their clients and their firm.
Seeing their progress reminds me of what teams go through to function effectively. It’s never easy and often misunderstood. Whenever you are on a newly formed team, you give it your all, put forth effort to get along, and give others the benefit of the doubt. But it doesn’t take long before someone says something that is hurtful or frustrating. Not intentionally, but that’s how you experience it. So you’re wondering, “What does that mean?” The other person is unaware of how you took their statement or action, so they move on, as if ignoring how you feel. So you interpret the whole incident as they meant it and don’t really care. When it happens again, it is no longer a question in your mind. It becomes a statement. “I know what that means.” That is, once you draw a conclusion (they meant to affront me and don’t care), you see everything they say and do through that filter.
It’s no wonder that you and your team find it so difficult to resolve important issues. Every time someone opens their mouth to assert their opinion or perspective, you immediately apply your filter to know what they REALLY mean. And they do the same to you. Not right. Not fair. But true. It’s what teams go through.
Too often, you may be tempted to stop there and allow your “knowing what that means” to harden. If you do, you limit your enthusiasm, diminish your contributions and deaden your presence in the group.
This week, notice when you fall into “I know what that means” and push yourself through it. Instead of being influenced by others, stay true to the purpose at hand, listening to what your better self tells you is right, and release the others from your view of them. In short order, you will be on your way to functioning as a high-performing team.