More and more often, employees are expected
to contribute to the performance and success
of their work teams. While it sounds great
on paper, it isn't all that easy to work in
a team, since often team members are
different in style, attitude, commitment and
work ethic. If you are a work team member,
supervise, manage or lead a team, take a
good look at these tips and hints which will
make it easier for team members to
contribute more productively to their teams,
and decrease friction among team members.
Stay tuned to the Teamwork File,
though, because we have more suggestions on
Often teams get bogged
down in blaming members when things go
wrong. As a team member you can do two
things to stop this wasteful and destructive
team behavior. First, eliminate blaming
language you may use. Replace blaming and
finger-pointing comments or questions with a
focus on solving problems, or preventing
problems. Second, if other team members get
into the blaming cycle, step in and "turn"
the conversation back to a constructive
approach. For example, here's a good phrase:
"Ok, maybe we could save some time here by
trying to ensure that the problem doesn't
happen again, so what can we do to prevent
it next time?"
Focus On The
Present And Future
This is related to the
blaming cycle. Don't dwell on the past. Use
the past (successes and team failures) to
help the team determine where they need to
go to improve. You can't change the past --
you can only use it to learn from.
Talking about a team
member in private with another team members
usually involves a blaming process. While
sometimes it's good to vent frustration
about a fellow team mate, you shouldn't be
doing it within the team. It's counter
productive, and harmful. Stop doing it
unless you have a specific, constructive
reason for doing so.
Take responsibility for
your behavior and the results that your team
produces, but NOT the behavior of your team
mates. When you take responsibility for
another member's actions, you will tend to
want to change your team mate, something
that often creates dissension.
Finally, focus on YOUR
contributions. Don't spend your time
thinking about or telling team mates what
THEY should be doing for the team. Think
about what you can contribute, and how you
can contribute more effectively. Then do it.
For example, if you have a great suggestion,
don't dump it in the group with the
expectation that someone else will implement
it. You offer to do it...after all it's your
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