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  • Elaine Gosden

Being part of an effective team starts with you!

Being part of an effective team starts with you!

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One of the most common problems that clients come to me with is when communication has 'broken down' in a team. And this usually stems from a difference in perceptions of the same event or piece of work. How we each see the world is uniquely ours - it's really hard to see the world from someone else's viewpoint - especially when you believe yours is right! ⠀


Top tip 1:


So, to be part of an effective team; you will need to be aware of your own style, mindset and traits and how those come across to others, as well as understanding that your world may occasionally collide with those you work with. When these collisions happen, the differences in perception within the team can actually enable something greater than the sum of it’s individual parts. ⠀


Remaining open minded and listening to the opinions of our colleagues, listening not to respond, but to build a clearer perception of the potential solutions available to us can only lead to clearer communication and less team break-downs. When was the last time you listened not to speak, but to the true meaning of what is being communicated to you?


Top tip 2:


Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person? The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t really matter what’s in the glass but why the glass is there in the first place! ⠀

My second top tip for being part of an effective team is to be clear, together, on what the purpose of the team is. ⠀

Does everyone know why we are doing what we are doing? Are the members of our team clear on not just the short term goals, but the longer term focus? ⠀


The vision should be set and agreed with the team leader, but the accountability for delivery remains with the team members, so if you feel a little rudderless or lacking direction (or maybe even glass half empty) at the moment – maybe it’s time for a re-set or a re-focus on the goals for the team that you are part of, to enable a better connection with the vision – or the ‘why’ for your team.


Top tip 3:


What kind of reaction do you have when I say the word ‘feedback’? ⠀


I don’t know about you, but coming from a blue chip corporate in the 1990s, the word feedback immediately gives me a sense of impending doom or dread, because perhaps of the formality that was drilled into me about feedback from those early days in business. ⠀


Actually though, feedback is a crucial part of being an effective team! Being able to speak up, and speak your truth when needed; being able to share your delight in the performance of your colleagues as well as helping them with the ‘even better if..’ moments. ⠀

Teams with an informal feedback culture tend to not let issues fester and are good at having ‘feedback’ (ugh) style conversations early, and thank goodness, it doesn’t be at the behest of a 3 page document or a lengthy performance management process. ⠀


My top tip – catch someone else in your team doing something right this week, and tell them how much you loved it and why! They’ll be delighted to receive your feedback and it may just be the positivity boost they need today.


Top tip 4:


If you have nothing kind to say, say nothing at all! ⠀


I’m not saying shy away from the difficult conversation; but I am saying it’s wise to have a think about the ‘why’ behind what you’re about to say to team mates. ⠀


I had to have a conversation with someone this week. I didn’t like what she was suggesting and I had some pretty unkind thoughts about it. Instead of sharing those unkind thoughts with her directly, I enabled myself to press pause and think of a different way around the issue – I still shared that I wasn’t happy with the approach, but I kept my unkind thoughts to myself.


So, consider before you speak, do these potentially unkind words need to be spoken, or is there another way of ‘gift wrapping’ my thoughts and feelings such that they are kinder to the person receiving them.⠀


How could you be more kind today?⠀


Top tip 5:


Walk a mile in their shoes.


People we work with are usually fighting a private battle you know nothing about. We can (unfortunately) get really judgemental about our team mates (admit it, we can) and actually we might know very little about them, their life and their current successes (and struggles) as well as their past successes and struggles. With this in mind, my last tip for being part of an effective team is to walk a mile in those other team member’s shoes – particularly those in the team who you don’t have the most effective relationship with. ⠀



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