Human and team dynamics are complex, but not necessarily all that complicated sometimes. Building a positive team and organizational environment isn’t like decoding the Rosetta Stone. Much of it boils down to normal people like you and me saying and doing simple things every day. It’s those things that contribute to that positive environment.
Here are a few things great teammates say on a regular basis. Obviously the point isn’t that you’re saying these things verbatim, or that you’re regurgitating them a certain number of times per day; but rather that we’re communicating these sorts of things to our teammates.
1. I was wrong.
You’re not perfect. You know it. Your team knows it. So why go to such great lengths to hide it? Some part of our brain tells us that admitting we’re wrong will cause people to lose respect for us, when in reality the opposite usually occurs. It builds trust. It shows humility, maturity, self-awareness, vulnerability, and humanness.
2. I’m sorry.
If you do dumb stuff as often as I do (and I hope for your sake you don’t), you’re cringing like I am at this one. I don’t know why it is, but some part of our brain (maybe the same one from above) will find any excuse not to apologize to someone for something. And on the off-chance that doesn’t work, that brain of yours will concoct an apology that’s also some sort of accusation at the same time, just more subtle. Like, “I’m sorry I screamed at you, insulted your family, threw spaghetti at you, and kicked over your potted plant; but you really upset me when you….”
Stop it. Don’t blame. Don’t equivocate. Just apologize and move on.
3. Here’s the situation I’m thinking through…
Just because you’re in leadership doesn’t mean you’re any smarter than everyone else on your team or in your organization. So as much as you’re able to, find ways to bring your team in on the decision-making process. Engage them with scenarios your team is facing. You want legit collaboration here though–not the whole I’m-going-to-ask-your-opinion-so-I-can-say-we-collaborated-when-really-I’m-just-going-through-the-motions-and-don’t-actually-care-what-you-think thing. Ask their opinion. Then listen. Repeat.
4. I trust you.
And then act like it.
5. Oh thanks, So-and-So, but I gotta be honest–Susan and Belinda are the real heroes here.
Your teammates won’t always hear this one or even know it happened, but then again you’re not saying these things just so they can hear you. At least I hope not. If you are, you’ve missed the entire point of this post.
But when your team does great work, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking it was somehow mostly due to your leadership brilliance. It’s more likely that in spite of your imperfections, your team used their collective awesomeness to do fantastic work. At least that’s true in my case.
It’s important to make a concerted effort to deflect praise toward where it rightly belongs: your team.
Yep. Don’t say anything. I have this stupid problem where some idea pops in my head while someone is talking. It’s usually because they’ve said something cool that’s sparked something in my brain, and before I know it, I’m so excited that out it comes. But that’s what the grown-ups call interrupting.
We all get caught up in those really great brainstorming sessions where we’re throwing around ideas, but we’ve got to be careful that we’re not talking over the top of folks.
What about you? What things do your teammates or leaders say that have a positive impact? What sorts of things do you think teams need to say more?