I have to tell you that the husband was not impressed with a previous blog detailing his inability to read the instructions. As far as I knew he never read the blog, but I was wrong. Anyway, we managed to negotiate domestic peace and I promised never to introduce him to any of my business colleagues as my husband.
Somewhat chastened, I accompanied him shopping yesterday. I have been planning an upgrade to what is laughingly referred to as our ‘patio’ and I wanted a fresh new look for this summer. So we were shopping for some outside furniture and, most importantly, a new barbecue. I knew exactly what I wanted and in these matters the husband is usually acquiescent – however the BBQ is a different matter, here is the only place that my husband can actually cook. Put him in the kitchen and anything more complicated than ‘bangers and mash’ is out of the question – hence my diet when sick can be a little monotonous; however in front of the BBQ he is a veritable Jamie Oliver!
Imagine my delight when entering the store I saw the sign that advertised the fact that they not only delivered – they actually set the things up! Put it together – following the instructions, with no swearing and no ‘bits surplus to requirements’ left over. Thoughtlessly I suggest we availed ourselves of this service … things got a little chilly after that.
When the items were delivered I retired to the office to sulk, with every expectation of bad language … but no; all around was silence. I quietly crept outside to investigate to find the husband deep in study of … …. …. the instructions!!!!
So never doubt the power of the blogosphere! Alas, the instructions were a perfect example of how some people can get it so wrong. Eventually it took both of us to figure out both the language (I don’t think it was English) and the amateur diagrams, which needed a microscope to read. Nevertheless, by virtue of working together, and with only the occasional outburst of cursing we are now the proud possessors of bright new patio furniture and a very modern BBQ.
So why am I telling you all this? Well it is not a rant about the abysmal standard of instructions … you all probably know about that. No, this time I want to consider the ‘virtue of working together’.
I think that we are all familiar with the benefits of teams, so I don’t want to discuss that either. But what I did realise yesterday was that working together does not always come naturally. Not everything we plan turns out the way we imagined it. And even a simple team of just two people and a cat is a complicated creation. Team members have to learn to work together, to pool their strengths and recognise that personal differences have to be sidelined in the interest of the team goal.
Team goals can often impart pressure due to unrealistic time frames – mine was “wouldn’t it be lovely to have this all done in time for lunch on the patio? ” His look of pure disbelief made me realise that my expectations did not meet our capabilities; so I adjusted my expectations and we are having lunch today on the patio!.
Teams can also underestimate the need for team development, while the members can work on the problem solving and processing, often the need to build strong relationships within the team is overlooked. To create an atmosphere which produces solid results requires the team to build solid foundations.
Many team members believe that all they need to do is to attend meetings, plan objectives and write reports etc. But when a team of people is formed there is often emotional issues and undercurrents which affects the outcomes desired.
So the first aim of any group must be to build a strong cohesive team, and that means spending time on activities which are not directly related to the group goal. To some, this may seem a waste of time, but in the long term time spent on interpersonal relationship building is never wasted.
Some of the things that affect us all, and questions that need to be considered when first building your team may be:
1. The feeling of inclusion – It is natural for people to wonder how they will fit into the team and some questions that will hover in the background are “How will I fit in with the other team members?” – some may try too hard to become a member of the group; while others may not even try at all. Their silent question could be “Why bother, I don’t really belong here” So it is up to each one on the team to understand that each person has been chosen for a reason, and that even though it may not be immediately apparent, each has a special part to play.
2. What influence will I have? – This can be translated as querying our value to the team. “Will I be listened to if I have an idea?” this is a variant of “Will I be allowed to contribute to the team?” This fear comes from a sense that the hierarchy of the team has been decided and they may not be included. Again, each team member has a value to the goal and the value of equal contributions must be established right at the outset. While this is really the province of the team leader, individual team members also need to understand that every one is a vital part of the whole.
3. Mutual Respect and Loyalty – Concerns are often felt about everyday interaction with the other team members. Often it is simply the question of “Will they like me?” Getting along with our team members again requires that each one is respected for their value to the team and for their unique contribution to the final goal.
You might wonder how I had time to ponder all these questions while I was part of a team of two (and a cat!) constructing a barbecue with only one sheet of instructions written in ancient Greek. Well I started out feeling included, with the husband asking me inclusive questions such as “What on earth is that supposed to be, can you make it out?” And then we progressed to the realisation that I was the only one who could actually decypher the code – so my area of influence was easily understood.
And because I was the only one to understand the key to construction it was obvious the husband had to get along with me; and the delegation of duties and responsibilities was agreed to. I sat on the chair and worked out the next step and the husband carried out my instructions.
When I pointed this fact out to him, his response was “I see – nothing’s changed then!” I was about to agree when I remembered – he had actually read the instructions first. Ah! The power of the blog!!
Michele @ Trischel
(with assistance from the husband and interference from the cat)