There’s no “I” in “team”.
We’ve all heard the statement a thousand times. Motivational companies have made millions printing it on coffee mugs. If a person says “I did” or “I said”, they are labeled as being self-absorbed and not a team player.
Steve Roesler recently challenged us to think beyond teams in one of his posts. He suggests that, as a team leader, we need to engage with team members individually. We need to find out what makes them tick so they can be a productive member of the team. Kudos to Steve for starting a dialogue that desperately needs to happen.
As managers, many make the mistake of thinking their role is to treat everyone the same. It’s not – it’s to treat everyone fairly.
For example, you and I work at the same company. I’m motivated by money. I want a bigger paycheck to buy clothes, shoes and designer handbags. (Hope Mr. Bartender isn’t reading this!) And, you’re motivated by time off – to take fishing vacations, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, whatever. If our boss gives us the exact same recognition…one of us will be unhappy. It’s not our boss’ responsibility to give us both the same thing but to give us both the same amount of the things that are important to us.
Another example . . . we’re still working for the same company. You like being recognized at staff meetings – think it’s cool when the boss says what a good job you did on XYZ project in front of the team. I like being recognized behind the scenes maybe with a note card or an email. If the boss sends you a card mentioning your great job, will you feel the same? Nope, probably not. And, if the boss stands me up in the next staff meeting, will I feel happy or embarrassed?
It’s important for managers to engage people on a personal level. And it’s OK for us, as employees, to take individual pride and ownership. It doesn’t always have to be a team effort – we should allow individuals to succeed on their own terms and we should recognize them in a way they appreciate. There is an “I” in every team…in fact, we should view each team as a collection of “I’s”.