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Getting a team to work together can take time, effort and understanding. I remember when I first joined Merrill Lynch in their London office, managing the client services team for the European Futures & Options Operations Department.
Although most europeans have a good command of the English language, we decided to recruit native speakers in our London office - so the desk had a mixture of English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch nationals. They were all young, enthusiastic and very ambitious, and I certainly had my management skills tested in dealing with the various egos as well as learning to manage the cultural differences!
We'd had a far amount of resignations, and had recently recruited some new staff. The existing team had interviewed and selected the new team members, choosing to take on staff with no experience in our industry, explaining it was easier and quicker to train someone in the skills of the job than to learn a foreign language. As a result, we recruited some very bright and enthusiastic new team members, for whom in most cases, this was their very first job.
About a month into the new team, I realised things weren't working out quite as we had hoped. There was real tension on the desk - it was no longer a fun place to work. The experienced staff felt the new recruits weren't pulling their weight; the new recruits felt they weren't being given enough support. The result? Resentment from both sides, lack of cooperation, no real communication and the experienced members taking on the majority of the work "to get it done".
I asked everyone to stay behind one night so we could talk it through. We went into a conference room, and set our 'agreement' - we would be honest, we would listen and respect the opinion of each person, we would be kind and considerate in our feedback. On a whiteboard, I wrote up the comments from each person. It soon became clear that everyone was on the same page! The experienced team members felt their new colleagues were lazy, because they didn't get through the work fast enough. The new team members felt their experienced team members lacked patience and understanding - they needed to be shown more than once how to do a task - they wanted to understand why they did what they did, not just do it by rote.
I make it sound quite civilized. In fact, that meeting was far from civilized at the beginning - lots of raised voices, several tears of frustration, but as we worked through each point, the team reached an understanding. The whole process took a couple of hours, but at the end, everyone went across the road to have a drink in the pub. Magic happened that night. From that point on, the team grew strong. They worked hard, and they played hard. They supported each other through thick and thin, and they had a lot of fun together. I think it was one of the best teams I have had the privilege to work with.
If you have a team that is not working cohesively, and you want to change that, I'd love to work with you and them to identify the issues and facilitate a solution. Call me on (02) 8006 9224 or email me: email@example.com.
Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
These days, it's so easy to get caught up in the trap of keeping busy rather than taking time out for ourselves. In fact, we may feel the need to justify any activity that isn't work related, because over the years we've repeatedly been told what we should and shouldn't do - by our parents, teachers and now our employers.
Keeping up our energy to stay on top of all the demands of our modern lifestyle requires we recharge our energy on a regular basis. Of course, we get energy from eating well, from breathing, from exercise. But we also get energy from doing the things that give us a sense of joy and of belonging.
Our requirements are all different. For some, it's retreating into a quiet place while for others they like to be amongst a crowd. Our needs vary from day to day, depending on the situations we find ourselves in. Listening to and taking care of those needs - being good to ourselves - is an important part of optimal wellbeing. When we are loved and cared for, almost anything is easy. When we are deprived, tired, needy, even the smallest detail becomes an overwhelming task.
Take some time out from your busy schedule, from the 'seriousness' of work and embark on an activity that lightens the load, feeds your soul and your body, too. It need not be something that takes a huge amount of time, either - just sitting at your desk, taking a few long, deep breaths and sitting in silence for a minute can be enough to recharge those batteries and equip you to continue with your day.
What are the things you can do to be good to yourself today? Here are some of my favourites:
- sitting under my favourite tree, taking in the beauty of nature
- going for a walk - long or short - just to 'get away from it all'
- writing in my journal
- taking a trip away - especially to a foreign country
- enjoying a pleasant meal with my husband
Make your own list, and when you've completed it, make a promise with yourself to do one thing off the list each day. You'll find you feel good about yourself, and you'll be amazed at how much more productive your day is if you can be good to yourself.
BANG!! We all turned around in the gym to the direction from which the noise had come, and there was one of our group members, lying flat on his back, glasses having flown through the air and landed some distance away. No one is sure what happened - we were getting ready to do our end-of class stretches, chatting amongst ourselves, and all we know is he was talking one minute, and on the floor the next.
The staff were fantastic. Instantly, they appeared from all corners of the room. Monte, the owner, took control, grabbing the telephone on his way so it was ready to hand if he needed to call an ambulance. Monte knelt on the floor next to the guy, started talking to him, while checking vital signs, all the time reassuring him and telling him to lie still and not get up. He was asking him questions - such as “do you know what day it is?” and “roughly what time is it?” - to see if his condition was getting worse or improving.
Some of the members were suggesting an ambulance be called. When Monte didn’t respond (although he still had the phone in his hand), the members looked at Howard, who responded “he’s got it” - meaning, it’s under control, and if Monte feels he needs an ambulance, he’ll call for it.
Seeing that Monte was able to cope, Howard moved us to a different part of the gym, and took us through our stretches. As our class disbanded, the next class was coming in. There was no verbal exchange between Monte and Howard, they’ve just worked together long enough to have that level of trust between them, and to each do what was required.
With Howard in charge of the room, Monte asked Hayden, a student in his first hour of student placement, to assist by locating and photocopying the member’s file. This meant personal details and exercise history was available to the ambulance crew should they need it.
Next, Monte wanted the area coned off, and the first aid box and gloves brought to him. Having spent about 15 minutes with the guy, observing and communicating with him, Monte felt it appropriate to ring for an ambulance. The member wanted to sit up - Monte stayed calm, gently, reassuring him and still telling him to lie still. As he stayed on the phone to the emergency services control room, Monte asked a member of the class that had just finished if they could please wait on the street to meet and direct the ambulance crew.
When they arrived, the ambulance crew immediately went to work, checking vital signs, asking questions, getting as much detail as possible.
A gym incident report was filled out, and a list of all the members who had been in the class that day was attached to it, with their contact numbers for future reference if required.
Finally, before the ambulance crew took the member to hospital, Monte spoke to his doctor and wife to advise them what had happened.
What criteria do you have for choosing the gym you want to exercise in? Perhaps you want state-of-the-art equipment, or a personal trainer to work one-on-one with you? I wanted somewhere close to home with great equipment AND with qualified, friendly, professional staff who showed me that it was as important to them that I achieve my goals as it is to me. It never occurred to me that I might be taken ill at the gym ... but how reassuring to know that in the event I am, the staff will remain calm and work together to take care not just of me, but of everyone else in the room.
Have you noticed how some people just don't behave the way you would, or the way you expect them to in a given situation? Your best friend, who you thought you knew so well, just doesn't react the way you thought they would? Do you find yourself wondering if you really know them at all?
It all comes down to their values being different to yours. It's not a case of right or wrong, just that we all have different values. Many people are not consciously aware of their values - but they still live their lives in accordance with their own personal values. Values are the things we believe in and which we think are important. They are the sum of our life experiences - influences from all around us - our parents, our family, our friends, our education, what we read, and so on.
We make decisions based on our values - and when we act out of alignment with our values, we feel intuitively not right - it's our in-built navigation system letting us know - and if we ignore the feedback, we feel very uncertain.
If we want to live a rich and fulfilling life, therefore, we need to determine our personal values. There are hundreds of values, but we tend to live our lives according to between 5 and 8 key values. So how do you determine the values that are important to you?
One method is to pick from a list, narrowing down until you end up with around 6 that are the most important to you. In my mind, there is a potential flaw in this approach as, subconsciously, you might pick the values that you think you should have, rather than the ones you truly live by.
A more accurate method is to dig deep within yourself to uncover your values. Think about your actions, the life you are living, the decisions you make - what are the principles you live by that create the choices you make? Still finding it difficult? That's ok - this doesn't come easily to everyone. Take a look around you and identify a role model that you admire and write down all the things you admire about them. These are the things you value - the things you want to live by.
When you live by your personal set of values, your life is fulfilling and stress free. You will accomplish your goals and dreams and be able to lead and influence others.