Pillars of a Great Team
A lighthouse to improve of a team collaboration
The worst ever 2020 year (by version of The Time magazine) is coming to its end and we need more positive news. Let’s remember what is positive communication and positive thinking, from which traits communications benefit from and what traits have destructive influence. The further article will be based on my personal opinion and experience. I’m not an expert in this area and you may disagree with me. My vision is based on multiple readings, but I would be glad to know your side of the story. I’ll tell you about the vision which we have in the team and points which we think are important to have good communication. All these points in my personal opinion might be considered as pillars of a great team, which help the team to overcome bad times.
Weak Points of Communications
Before going to say something like “you should do this and that”, I want to remind you about the most common problems of communications. These problems are naturally evolved in human behavior because they helped to survive in the past. But today they have a destructive influence on collaboration between people. Let me give you examples, which describe patterns you might recognize, which you might meet in your life.
Example 1 about focusing on negative and lack of empathy: A person designed a solution and came for feedback to a more senior person. The more senior person found a lot of problems, minor and major, and told all of them destroying the motivation and self-esteem of the first person.
Example 2 about disrespect: A person told others that they will do something because he/she is more senior.
Example 3 about exaggerated ego: Two persons are spending weeks on making a decision about future development because bringing more and more points in support of their visions.
I’d like to emphasize here that these traits are common to all people, because they are evolutionarily developed in our ancestors as a part of their survival. But nowadays they have destructive influence.
For example, the focus on negative aspects causes over-criticizing and may also contribute to someone’s imposter syndrome. The anticipation of bad things to happen made us aware about dangerous consequences beforehand and prevented them. But if someone constantly thinks about their skills level and possible troubles which may be consequences of low skills, they are disrupting their self confidence.
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Another example is the exaggerated ego. When you meet someone with such a trait it may not be related to selfishness and narcissism. The brain tries to find logical consequences from actions. If there is no such logical explanation of the past, the future becomes uncertain. The person whose future is uncertain feels insecure. Some people are more than others vulnerable to an obscure future and tend to focus on enforcing their own vision on others making the external world conform with their vision. This helps them feel more confident.
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Mitigation of Weak Points
If I were successful with my examples and clarification, you might have understood my main points. These traits of negative communication are very common, all people have them and mitigation of them is a process which requires constant actions. They are a kind of bad habits which you’d like to get rid of. And as with any of such habits it requires consistency and constant small actions which can help you on this road only with the time.
The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members. — Mahatma Gandhi
Any habit requires consistency, self-awareness and time. One realistic study has shown that it may take around 254 days to develop a habit. This is a long path and we always need a kind of a reminder about goals where we are going to, a kind of a lighthouse.
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The list of traits below forms the lighthouse which I discuss with my team. The understanding that we’re on the right path and doing better everyday makes a difference. It’s more important to have a mutual contribution to this progress, and not where exactly we’re located on this way. I call them “pillars of a great team”. Let me go along its items and clarify as I understand them. They are ordered from the most important to the least, which means we need to invest more efforts into the important items.
- Empathy. There are many things which people cannot tell for multiple reasons. As we are close together we should try to understand the feelings and motivations of team mates. We should learn their scale of good and bad.
- Respect. We can discover that the scale of good and bad of our team mates is different from ours. Their vision about approaches might be different and you personally may think it’s not correct. But you should give space to them to have their opinion.
- Trust. It’s something which requires a long time to build and a short time to break. Trust is an act of accepting other people’s abilities, relying on them, accepting risks which follows, accepting bad and good traits.
- Language. Team’s communication should always emphasize that everyone matters in the team. You should use “we” and keep your ego behind. Everyone should have time to express their opinion, and it should be accounted for.
- Support. It’s very important to keep feeling that there are people who a team mate can rely on. And this is a team. In good times it’s easy to be good, play kind. The same should stay in bad times. This is the only way to express support. If someone makes you sad, it’s also a bad time for another person, not only for you.
- Consistency. Saying lofty things is easier than following them. You should not make trade offs when it comes to reality. Actions should not create doubts about stated values.
- Calmness. You should not exaggerate emotions or judge other people. You should also avoid pointing to a person if you don’t like something. Instead, say about the solution’s bad aspects, not that it was someone’s bad solution.
- Involvement. Everyone needs to feel that their contribution makes value, their decisions make a difference. The communication and work structure should encourage and help in the construction of such an atmosphere.
- Passion. You should love WHAT you do and HOW you do. You should love to read about it, look from different perspectives, play with it.
- Commitment. You should settle your own targets and strive to achieve them.
If I had to choose only three of them, I would choose Empathy, Respect and Trust. I believe these three aspects, if you invest time on them constantly, will build a great team.