Healing The Work Environment – Part VI: What Team Members Should Focus On

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crafted by , on 30 June, 2015, in

Great teams have great team leaders, I heard it many times.

But what many forget to tell you is that behind a great team leader there are some amazing individuals, with stellar skills. Meet the team members! Without them there wouldn’t be a team.

Before going any further…

…as promised and showed in my previous Work Environment articles (part I, part II, part III, part IV, part V), here are some opinions from the Monitive Awesomenauts.

Question: Every individual is a hero to others. What are your secret weapons?

Luci: Experience, “positiveness”, happiness, know-how, fun, dreaming big, ambition.

Marcy: I’m full of patience, my inner critic has a strong voice, and I have plenty of intuition to give away to others, for free.

Alina: I listen actively. It works great for me and I could give it as an advice for everyone. Before you start any kind of working at your job or any sort of relationship, just listen! What do people say? What do they want from you? Let people talk, take a short note about what they said, then start doing things! Listening makes your life a lot easier.

Read the full interview. They’re a wild bunch!

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The first thing on our list

Let’s understand what a team member is. After a quick search on the Internet we’ll discover its definition: a person belonging to a specific group of people involved in attempting to achieve a common goal. Now let’s dissect this for a better understanding. We have the individual, the group and its actions and we have the group’s goal(s). Let’s put them, one by one, under the magnifying glass.

The goal

Any team has a goal, the group’s one true north. During sunny days or stormy days, regardless of the tons of work designated to everyone, the team must not lose its focus – what needs to be achieved.

A great way to set goals is the S.M.A.R.T. approach. This technique aids, an individual or a group of people, when it comes to information retention, more exactly it will translate any kind of information into a form that the brain can retain better than its original form.

  1. Specific: target a specific area for improvement.
  2. Measurable: quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  3. Assignable: specify who will do it.
  4. Realistic: state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  5. Time-related: specify when the result can be achieved.

You can find many resources online about this technique (or others if you like), and one that I found to be of great use to me is S.M.A.R.T. Goals Made Simple – 10 Steps to Master Your Personal and Career Goals by S.J. Scott.

Don’t ignore the goal, don’t treat it superficially, it represents the foundation of everything that follows.

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The Group and its actions

Normally, this should be treated later, after understanding the team and its members, but I’m a complicated guy… and I’ll talk about it now.

Many business owners, entrepreneurs if you want, dive into that craziness called “the business environment”, without giving it too much thought, and without having a vision for their approach. Most of them have an individual goal: to make money, it’s the blunt truth.

Fortunately, in the last few years things started to turn for the better. When you think about Google or many other smaller companies (Toggl or Slack for example), you’ll get such a positive vibrant emotion about their environment and their work process. Imagine waking up in the morning with a strong urge to get to work, imagine the level of dedication of everyone involved in the process, regardless of being an employee, a freelancer, or an entrepreneur.

Personal Actions

When someone lives inside the border of a group should follow a set of written or unwritten rules, a set of guidelines meant to keep everybody under the same roof, speaking the same language, and working towards the common goal(s). Any individual action can reflect, in a positive or a negative way, on another team member so perhaps the most important idea here is to be aware of your personal actions and their consequences.

Personality

I would say to never go ahead and hire or collaborate with someone who lacks the social ability. Of course, people aren’t all the same: some are introverts, others extroverts, and many others are somewhere in the middle – being introverts or extroverts based on the day of the week, the hour of the day, based on the amount of money in their pocket, or many other reasons.

But regardless of which type one is, there’s always a “fitting” segment in our state of being, in our personality, leaving room for accommodation to others, for collaboration, for sociability.

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Morality

Did you ever wondered how important is the morality inside a group? If not, you should. And, without trying to make your mission easier, let me add to this equation the Communication Accommodation Theory.

Communication Accommodation Theory was founded by Howard Giles. This theory highlights our interaction, one with another, and how we’re adjusting our voice and gestures in order to accommodate to others. People have a tendency for emphasizing or minimizing the social differences between themselves and their interlocutors. There are two main accommodation processes described by Giles, convergence and divergence.

The first one – convergence – refers to the strategies through which individuals adapt to each other, in order to reduce the social differences.

The second one – divergence – refers to those situations in which people accentuate the differences between one and another. In traditional groups, through team buildings and great leadership, this aspect can be easily maintained under control.

But what about morality? In any group there are three main factors, at least from my point of view, that will dictate the outgoing of that group’s actions – competence, sociability and morality. While competence is an on-going process and will grow on a daily basis, from one experience to another, sociability and morality are not so easy to be developed. They go hand in hand: a newborn child isolated on an island couldn’t develop social skills, and morality, as we know it, couldn’t be learned. He’d develop a set of moral rules that would make sense only to him.

Now imagine the same scenario on another island, as main actor another child – no social skills and its own set of moral rules. One day one of them learns to swim and arrives on the others island. Soon they meet… How would they react ? They don’t have any social skills. Maybe in time, they could get used to each other, they would interact and who knows what could follow. But what about their individual morality ? What for one something is seen as right, for the other could be seen as being wrong. What if one eat only vegetables and got used with animals as being its companions, while the other hunts the animal for food ? Many following scenarios can be imagined, but I think you get the idea.

Take a step back, look at everything around us, at the multiculturalism, at this wonderful plenitude of appearances and ideologies, this amazing diversity. Can you understand why it’s important to have the social skills and to posses morality in order to be part of a group? Great! Now you should realize that today, not tomorrow, nor the day in a year from now… we need this more than ever.

People from all over the world connect, through the power of the Internet, people from different cultures, of varying ages, everyone with its own personality. Get your head out of the sand, open your door and windows, and I’m not referring to those of your house but actually your mind!

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The individual

And finally we arrived at the star of this article – the team member. Any of us, no matter what position occupy in a team, we’re all team members. So what skills should one possess to be a valuable team player? Let’s assume that everyone has the required technical abilities, what are all the others that can be considered as aces in a team’s sleeve?

Reliability – the team must rely on every member that he or she will deliver promptly, high-quality work, within the set deadline.
Keywords: consistency, performance.

Communication – every team member should be allowed to present his or her personal opinions, to speak its mind and to listen others opinions.
Keywords: honesty, constructive feedback.

Engagement – an individual should become an active participant, and will always stay relevant to its domain of work. He or she will never be caught off guard, and will always be prepared for tackling the day ahead.
Keywords: initiative, contribution.

Flexibility – any team member should learn Parkour. Not necessarily in the physical way, but more in a mental way. One needs to adapt, while running, to the incoming obstacles and ever changing conditions.
Keywords: compromise, support, adaptability.

Commitment – a great team player cares about the team and about its work.
Keywords: devotion, support, care.

Respect – colleagues should treat each other with respect and care. An awesome team player will always provide assistance to others.
Keywords: professional.

Empathy – a valuable team member will recognize other people’s feelings and mood and will resonate with them.
Keywords: modesty, unselfishness, compassion.

There you have it!

Maybe if you’ll ask someone else, they’re going to tell you about other attributes, but at least that’s how I envision the people I’m working with, and especially that’s how I’m envisioning myself.

Improve yourself on a daily basis, set your own assumptions, develop your work methods, sync yourself with your team members, keep an open mind towards others ideas, get excited, set high standards and do an awesome job.

Spread your wings and fly!

About Ciprian Irimies

Ciprian is an UX Ninja, but what really makes him stand out of a crowd is the desire to venture into the unknown, to boldly face new challenges and the lack of hair on his head.