Working Better As A Team
Often even the most talented people find it difficult to work together. As a manager or business leader this can give you a headache as you try to assemble an elite team of high performing individuals, only to find that the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts.
Problems often arise from clashes in style or personality. The more advanced an individual is in their career, the more likely they are to have formed a style that works for them and they become set in their ways.
In turn, this tends to arise from a lack of awareness and understanding of each other. This can lead to a lack of efficiency and optimisation when working with others, and in worst cases, conflict which can be unpleasant for all involved.
One answer is to run a session based around raising self-awareness and awareness of others. One useful and very popular option is to use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Developed nearly 100 years ago and based around the work of Carl Jung, this tool is great for helping people understand their preferences in how they interact with the world and each other. Once you understand your self better, you can understand why you act and react in certain ways. When you then understand your team mates better on the same terms, you can see why you work so much better with some people, and have some real issues dealing with others!
To enhance team work using this tool, each member should identify similarities with others and leverage them, and identify differences with others and overcome them or work around them.
The main benefits of using a tool such as MBTI are that it raises self-awareness, raises awareness of others, raises awareness of how better to work together and to be more considerate of other people’s working styles and preferences. It also gives your team members a common language and vocabulary to talk about these things. If your team uses Myers-Briggs for example, you might hear people referring to themselves as introverts to justify why they may need time to reflect, or as extraverts which is why they are more animated and prefer a bit of background noise in the office. You may know that your colleague has a ‘perceiving’ preference which can explain why they do things at the last minute instead of planning in advance – once they understand this too, they can start to work on overcoming any negative impacts of this.
On the downside, many managers and some HR managers, don’t like the idea of labelling or pigeon-holing people. This can happen, where individuals use their personality type or preferences as an excuse for certain behaviour. Using the same example as above, you might hear “well I can’t work in a team because I’m an introvert.” This is not acceptable and needs to be ironed out early on (introverts can work very effectively as a team if they put their mind to it!). The key here is in the running of the initial session, and making sure everyone is clear about what these terms mean and what you do with the knowledge. It is always better to use someone who is qualified to run these sessions rather than attempt it yourself.
So if you’re the manager of a team that feels like a lost cause, don’t be disheartened. There are plenty of tools out there which can help your team understand themselves and each other better and so begin to work more effectively together.