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One Teammate Can Destroy the Works

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As this simple illustration shows, even the tiniest cog in the gear system can create destruction. Imagine these gears are running pulleys to your life support systems. What if….just what if that small pretty little pink/purple gear jammed? Although small, its working health would have a life or death role in the system.

So too with each team member. Every member on the team plays a role to keep the system/project/task/department functioning well. If just one team member, no matter how significant a player, makes a mistake or falters in any way, the whole team can be destroyed. That’s pretty frightening when you think on it. Even the team members with seemingly little power can wreak havoc.

It’s the responsibility of the team leader or manager to make sure all the gears are functioning properly. That’s a daunting task given the many variables all us humans bring to the table.

To keep with the analogy of these gears, what would be the lubricant to keep the gears working well? I suggest it is made up of a lot of components:

  1. Observation. The manager must watch each team member to make sure they are on track. (No, that does not mean micro-manage.) Are they doing what they are expected to do in the right order of activity? How are the team members interacting? Is that working as it should?
  2. Information. Does each team member have 100% of the information they need to perform their role on the team? And does the team as a whole have the information they need to achieve their goal together?
  3. Acountability. Is each team member informed and expected to be fully accountable for their performance?
  4. Motivation. Everyone has different requirements to be personally motivated. It’s the job of the supervisor to understand what it takes to keep each individual motivated, which will, in effect, keep the team motivated.

You can add more gears to the illustration in this post yet the message is the same. Everyone is critical for the success of a team. No one is to be dismissed, ignored or worked around.

** Image provided courtesy of imagerymajestic from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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2 Responses to One Teammate Can Destroy the Works

  1. How can a super know what motivates the others? That’s personal, isn’t it?

    • Jason, thanks for raising a good question. If a manager wants to make sure he/she is getting the most out of the team, it’s in his/her best interest to understand the motivations of every single person on the team. Everyone is motivated differently, which is what makes it such a challenge to get things done as a group. One way to understand the differences is to make a list of possible motivators and distribute the list to each team member and ask them to identify the ones that resonate with them. For instance, 1. Acknowledged appreciation in team meetings 2. Money/things 3. Opportunities to advance 4. Name in lights on the company bulletin board or website 5. Congrats letter to family, etc. Everyone is different.

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