The best thing you can do for your team is to work on yourself. If everyone does that, and people support each other in their respective development, the team will grow and mature. So, too, will the individual. PRACTICE and DISCIPLINE are the foundations of the work. They are qualities you will need to return to again and again as you seek to change certain habits. It can be difficult at first, but if you pay close attention you will be able to SEE YOUR PROGRESS, no matter how small. And it’s important that you see the small steps, because if you wait for the big leaps you will easily become downhearted.
AWARENESS is the first step on the path. This is nurtured by OBSERVATION and (written) REFLECTION, as you mine each experience and interaction for the chance to learn something. Record your INSIGHTS and LEARNING POINTS every day for one month, and you will begin to see your patterns more clearly. Furthermore, you will see that you are able to make different, more informed choices regarding your actions and reactions. Experiment with alternatives and observe what happens. Include trusted members of your team in your process. That way you enlist their support, and they can remind you when you forget. You may even inspire them to do the same.
The next step is to seek CONNECTION wherever you look. You may have to work hard sometimes, but the practice of making connections is a very good one to nurture. It makes life easier. And clearer. Seeing the connections in your own patterns means you will be able to solve issues more quickly and with a broader brush, resolving multiple issues with one intervention. When you are able to connect with whatever another person says or does, you immediately see the contribution they make to you. Telling them how they have contributed to you strengthens the connection you have with them.
The best way to connect with another person is to LISTEN. Successful teams TALK TO EACH OTHER (appropriately!), but they also listen. Active listening is a difficult skill to master; but as with all the skills mentioned here, it is one worth practising. When you listen completely to someone, they notice. They can feel it. It makes a difference to them and they will appreciate the effort you have made. It will improve any interaction you have. In addition, it becomes a form of meditation as you repeatedly refocus your attention on what you are hearing, rather than what you are thinking or planning to say. In that way, you can free yourself from the torrent of thoughts which so easily occupy the mind.
Another necessary skill for effective teamwork is FEEDBACK. This is by far the most unpopular aspect because it makes us feel uncomfortable. For some people, a simple compliment is enough to make them squirm, whereas everyone struggles at some point with critical feedback – whether giving or receiving it. It helps to give your permission. Show that you are open to feedback. If you give your own feedback first (on your performance), people feel much more comfortable in giving you their version of events. Finally, if you are unsure whether someone is open to feedback, ask them. If they are not, leave it until they are.
There may come a time when you have to tell someone, whether or not they are ready to hear it. The key is to remember the following: Give feedback with the intention of making a difference to someone else’s life. In fact, whatever you do, make sure your INTENTION is the right one. And make sure it’s clear. If you take time to establish your intention, your work will be easier and you will be more effective.
All of the words in capital letters are skills which can be practised every day. The biggest hurdle to progress is remembering to practise. Fortunately, if you enlist the support of people in your team, each of you will be more likely to do what is necessary to further the development of both the individual and the team.