I love working with teams. I hear about fascinating businesses, meet interesting people, and I get the satisfaction of helping people make their work lives more rewarding. Well, most days, that is.
Sometimes, I am driven to distraction by the things team members do. Here’s my top five.
- Coming late to meetings
- Sucking up to the team leader while ignoring everyone else
- Talking about stuff no one cares about
- Fighting over who is right
- Wimping out of the debate in the room, but stoking it up outside the meeting
- Having a "woe is me" mentality
1. They come late to meetings. Really late to meetings.
It’s self-centered. It’s rude. Don’t do it. Especially if you’re the team leader and everyone is waiting for you. And remember, if your team meeting is running over time, you’re making everyone late for their next meeting too. Make the meeting the length you need to deal with the agenda you have. Shrink the agenda to fit with the time frame. Start and end on time—FOCUS PEOPLE.
2. They look at the team leader all the time.
Do you add value on your team or are you just there to nod and smile at your fearless (or feckless) leader? If you are earning your keep, stop worrying about what your team leader is thinking, saying, and doing. Pay attention to all your teammates equally. Listen and understand how your points are landing with everyone—STOP SUCKING UP.
3. They talk about the wrong stuff.
Most teams I work with are together for between 50 and 100 hours a year. That time is precious and it’s constantly wasted sharing updates that are at best of passing interest and at worst lame attempts to prove one has done something to justify one’s salary since the last time the team convened. If you’re supposed to be a team, talk about the stuff that the team is supposed to be doing—co-creation, collaboration. If you don’t need at least 50% of the team adding new value on that agenda item—STOP WASTING EVERYONE’S TIME!
4. They fight over who is right.
People act as though complex problems have simple, one-dimensional answers. They make it feel like they are playing musical chairs, there’s only one chair left, and they are going to be the one to win. If you think the world is that simple, you should be working at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory with Forrest. Seriously, organizations are complicated and there is always more than one truth. Share yours and then zip it for a minute and listen everyone else’s. Find an answer that solves for both truths—WORK IT OUT.
5. They save up their beefs for after the meeting.
Team members who nod their way through meetings and then complain covertly outside the meetings should be removed from team meetings and put in the penalty box—the number of meetings they have to miss should be based on how heinous their foul was. Teams have meetings so that people can share their ideas and discuss issues. If you forego your opportunity, you are wasting space. Griping behind your teammates’ backs is cowardly—DEAL WITH IT.
Oh jeez, I’m on a roll now. One more bonus beef.
6. They think they are the one who’s hard done by.
I’m so tired of the “woe is me” crowd. As often as not, it’s the people pointing a finger at some “bully” who are doing just as much or more damage themselves. If you are letting yourself be bullied, start taking control of your own destiny. If someone is wounding you, stand up to them. Or better yet, try to understand them. Seriously people, we’re adults—MAN UP.
I feel so much better. Wanna’ try? What drives you nuts about teams?