Working in a team is always something I have naturally been drawn to. From playing in orchestras, rock bands and sports teams, to making collaborative film projects and getting the help of my friends around me to make assignments easier at school. I would say that I have a lot of experience when it comes to teamwork and collaboration; it is also what drives me! I love working in a team.
In a previous top tip that I wrote about collaboration, I discussed how collaboration allows you to make something 10 times better than you could just on your own, however this wasn’t something that came to me naturally.
Let me share my story on how I figured out the most important lesson in teamwork.
For those that don’t know me, I love my football, and by football I mean (real) football or what most still call soccer. I start playing when I was 5 and haven’t stopped since. Growing up with football was a fun experience. When I was in the younger age groups it was all about socialisation and two full teams of kids all chasing a ball around with no real structure or strategy, whilst trying to learn basic skills. When I hit the Under 10’s it started to stop being so unorganised and we started to look at team formations and actually playing a specific role.
This is when I started to find football to be somewhat challenging for me. At 16, I can remember becoming really frustrated after one particular game. My team hadn’t been winning many games and my biggest frustration was that I felt like I had to try and play other people’s positions for them whilst also playing mine. One of the most memorable lessons I have learnt in my life came from my Dad’s response from me talking with him about my frustrations. He said that the reason why my team wasn’t playing well was because I wasn’t trusting my other team members to do their job, and this had a detrimental effect on the team. If I was playing someone else’s role for them then there was no one playing my position and instead, two people playing one person’s role. Thus our formation would just totally fall apart. This is when I learnt the most important factor for success in any teamwork environment, and that is to trust your team members to do what they are supposed to do. From that week forward, I started to enjoy football a lot more. My team didn’t necessarily improve that greatly, but we did start playing better together and I started having so much more fun, because I was trusting my friends to do their job and I was focusing a lot harder on doing a great job at mine.
Now there is an element of fear when putting your trust in someone, as it could come back to bite you. In this example, trusting a team mate who doesn’t end up doing their job has a detrimental effect. However, when it is a more obvious problem to fix, we can either give that person more direction or clarity on what they need to do, or we could sub them out and put someone else on the field in their position. It is easier to see and fix a problem caused by one person than by many. Trusting someone either yields a great result or makes it extremely obvious who is letting the team down, and both outcomes can have a positive result if you look at it with the right frame of mind.
So this principal applies to any sort of teamwork both inside and outside of work, and let’s just take the time now to clarify that a teamwork means as soon as you involve just one other person to the work you are doing then that is now a team. So these principles apply across all of those relationships. There will also be people that you team up with that aren’t necessarily working within the business; freelance or outsourced contractors for example. Putting trust into these people is just as important because trusting people can hit some tension points. But the one thing we need to realise is that other team members, both internal and external to your business, are there for a reason. This is the same reason why people go to financial advisers or have an accountant handle their tax return.
At the end of the day, we have to admit that we can’t be experts at everything and it is perfectly natural to get assistance from people who are experts at what they do, however that requires a level of trust. If you are the type of person that wants someone to gain your trust before you give it to them, then you need to be aware that this is your preference and you can’t expect someone to just know that about you. That is something that you have to manage which starts to step into the realm of expectation management. However, for the sake of the message I am trying to share just understand that putting your trust in someone is a skill, if you aren’t the best at it then it’s a great skill to learn.
However, if you are happy to trust someone to do their job, then it’s really as simple as just trusting them. Where this goes astray is also where everyone’s least popular business term comes into play, ‘micromanagement’ (also commonly known as wasting your time)
Micromanagement is where relationships go to die
No one likes to micromanage or likes to be micromanaged, so why do it? Put your trust in someone to do what they are experienced at and you will soon learn whether or not they can deliver what they have promised.
Now don’t get me wrong, it sucks when you learn that you can’t trust someone to do their job but the experience is like ripping off a band-aid quickly. There are four ways a trust relationship can go:
- You can micromanage (waste your time) an experienced employee and piss them off.
- You can micromanage (waste your time) someone that can’t complete a job they told you they could do. Which just pisses you off.
- You can trust someone who can’t complete the job and you will find out straight away and won’t waste your own time.
- You can trust someone who can complete the job and they will love working for you and you will love the work they do.
So let’s assess those four options. Both micromanaging options leave someone pissed off and the relationship is ruined in both scenarios. Both ‘trusting’ options give you a positive outcome. In the third option, you either learn that a relationship isn’t worth your time in the future and move someone on from that role or specific type of task, or you find out that an employee needs more clarity to successfully do their job in which you can work together to build a stronger relationship. The fourth option is the ultimate win, you build a great relationship with someone who will love working with you in the future.
Now I don’t know about you but I think it is pretty obvious that putting your trust in others always wins.