A Better Functioning Team of Humans

Agenda item number 1 for the day is team function.

When I ask my staff about things that they would like to see changed or areas we can improve on in the department, team function is always right there on top. They have felt that we should treat each other like we treat our customers. I had agreed that, yes, we should because we treat our customers rather well. Now, as team function makes it's way to the top of the agenda again, I am wondering if maybe, just maybe, treating each other as we do customers is NOT the way to better team function. Maybe there is a better way. Maybe what is good for the goose is not good for the gander. Maybe the way to better team function is simply allowing each other to be human.

When we serve customers, we are in a service role. In a transactional sense, they ask and we respond, always with our positive, energetic "game faces" on. It is what my staff are asking for in their interactions with fellow team members and it is what I have in essence asked them to do. Seeing us in that mode all day, an observer could fear, rightly so, that they were unwittingly dropped onto the set of that giant purple dinosaur ("I love you, you love me, one big happy family . . . "). 

Our work environments should not be hostile and given that, I expect my staff to treat team members as they would like to be treated themselves, i.e. don't take your friend's finger paints when she goes potty.  That aside, treating each other "as we do customers" will not improve our team function (case in point, it hasn't worked yet) and even more so, I don't think it is healthy.

  • I will snap.
  • I will have bad days.
  • I will over react to things.
  • I will assume things in error.
  • I will say things that may just be a little short and you will sense a hint of frustration in them.

I will do this because I am human. So, maybe the other side of the team equation is allowing each other to be human. Allowing team members the room to put their game face aside and let you see how they really feel. Not taking it personally if you are on the receiving end and, if you are on the giving  end, going back and cleaning up your messes when you have had a chance to settle down. It is taking a walk when you feel the need to blow or disengaging from an interaction or staff member when you need your space and from the other side, giving them the space to do so without taking offense. It is  starting to remember that it is not all about you, it is about us and only be working together and being engaged and supportive vs. expecting "game face" days all the time.

Maybe this is the way to better team function and maybe this is the conversation I should be having with my staff.