(Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 ever watch a young child take it's first step? Seen them hesitate, uncertain of what might happen, then take another step, then another? And as the steps increase, the look on their face changes from one of fear, to uncertainty, to intrigue, to joy and then sheer excitement - with lots of screams and giggles included. The adults standing near by give encouragement and cheer them, which boosts their confidence to take another step. With their support team beside them, believing in them and celebrating their success, their confidence continues to grow - until their fears disappear altogether and their parents have to grab them to stop them walking into danger!
We gain confidence in many ways - usually when we achieve something in line with our values and beliefs. Making decisions makes us confident, it moves us forward, and as we move forward, we gain confidence.
It's only when we lack confidence that we begin to feel doubt and that's when we step outside of ourselves to seek recognition. When we lack confidence, we are indecisive and uncertain.
We doubt ourselves and make decision making difficult, asking ourselves "what will happen if I make the wrong decision?".
Just assess the situation you find yourself in, and make the decision in light of what is best for you in that moment. We learn from everything we do - so take the first step, and trust your internal guidance system to take you where you need to go. Like a child, every step forward brings greater confidence, and if you can surround yourself with supportive friends, they will cheer you on your way.
You will find that, when your confidence is at it's peak, you are open to new things, moving forward and positively energised. You are calm, acknowledging and yet strong and powerful at the same time. You are living life in accordance with your values, living life on purpose, and with gratitude.