One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.
There was a new team member coming… everyone knew it… the project had been failing and one day, the project leader, Sam, wasn’t there anymore. When the team members asked around, they discovered that Sam had been transferred to another division.
Everyone knew that Sam had disagreed vociferously on more than one occasion with his boss, Joe. Also, Sam had never really wanted to hear bad news. When something wasn’t going well, he would lose his temper a bit and although he said he wanted to hear what was really happening, they found in practice that he would rather hear that everything was going well.
In fact, when Joe called the team together for a meeting to discuss the progress of the project, he implied as much, although he’d put a good face on it. Joe decided to talk about what made a good project leader and what made a good project team member. He said that there were ways to succeed and ways to fail. And that he wanted them to know how to succeed.
It’s important to work well with others
First he made sure that everyone understood that in order to succeed in this division, you had to be a good contributor and work well with others. The team members were a little nervous. “How will we manage without Sam?” one of them asked.
Joe reassured them. “One person doesn’t make a team,” he said, quoting one of his favourite management experts. “You are all good resources to this project. And yes, we will need another project leader and that has been taken care of. Joanne will be starting next week. But I expect you to support her and work to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Everyone must act as if they own the business
Joe went on to say that they would all need to step up and take ownership of the project’s purpose. Every one of you, he said, has an integral part to play in making this project happen and you shouldn’t lose sight of your own value to the project.
Be willing to hear bad news…
When Joanne arrived, she found that she had to encourage the team members to speak up. They were used to being discouraged from bringing bad news. A couple of times, she kept questioning until the bad news came out. Then she would comment, “Oh great. It’s important to know that. Now let’s work together to figure out how we can solve that problem.”
Facilitate and encourage others to open up
And she made a point of taking team members aside and complimenting them on their willingness to speak up.
“It means a lot to me,” she said, “That I know you will tell me if things aren’t working out. That means I can rely on you.”
How has the loss of a key team member impacted your work? What kind of team leader might you be – one who is indispensible and therefore holds back the other team members or one who is facilitative of others’ success? Let us know what you think.