Where’s the “I” in Team?
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If you search Amazon books for “team building”, you will receive over 47,000 results.  Is this really so complicated a subject that it warrants the writing of so many books?

My own opinion is that team building is a topic all of us need to hear and read about often, for we are all born selfish.   Each of us continues to remain selfish and fall back into selfishness at times, unless we consciously put ourselves in the place of those with whom we interact.  Jane Austen once said that “Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure.”

In addition to an innate tendency to be selfish, we are all born as individuals, and no two of us are exactly alike.  Not even identical twins have identical personalities.  By nature, we all tend to bond best with those who have traits like ours, as well as those who consciously make an effort to communicate well with us.

For those of you who don’t know exactly what is involved in my daily routine, a good share of my time not occupied by matchmaking services is spent coaching individuals and company leaders in our industry.  I spend one-on-one time with individuals and listening to the challenges they are facing.  These challenges are always tied to others, but usually have direct solutions. The success of implementing the solutions always lies solely with the individuals with whom I am engaged, and their ability to think beyond themselves.

What do I mean by this? Let me present a few examples:

Issue: Project is behind schedule.

Typical Response:

The executive/company owner assumes the team is not performing and steps in to manage the job, thinking this is the only solution. In reality, he doesn’t have sufficient time to dedicate to the project without detracting from their other responsibilities within the company.

Path to Resolution:

Full team communication: All members on the project team should be able to sit in a room and openly provide insights and solutions, and rely upon the executive or owner to provide the team with the necessary tools to achieve the goal, without chastising them for being behind schedule.  In reality, any industry-experienced project team  will not want to fail as much as you as the leader, don’t want to fail, and whatever they are asking you to spend for resources can’t cost you as much as wasted time, and the delay claims and relationship issues arising therefrom.

Resolution:

Map out a game plan with everyone’s approval, as well as clear directions to share with stakeholders. This will ensure the owner or project executive retains the ability to measure progress and lead without jeopardizing his other responsibilities.

Issue: I can’t get a job in construction, or I get a job with neither advancement nor stability.

Typical Response:

Drawing a litany of unwarranted assumptions, such as that online sites are bad or that company hiring doesn’t recognize the right candidate for hiring or promotion, that companies or recruiters don’t respond to applications despite perfect for the job, or that they don’t want to pay me what I am worth, that my resume tells it all, that I can do anything, that the market hasn’t really picked up, that there are no good jobs or employers out there, that they want younger employees as they don’t want to pay for experience, or that they think they can control the younger employees.

Path to Resolution:

Better understanding of where your skills and credentials rate in the current construction marketplace, and understanding which companies and jobs are matches for you, or being willing to learn new skills, earn new certifications, or change the way you approach hiring opportunities.  You need to learn to identify the companies who are hiring individuals with your skills and credentials and understand how to present yourself to those companies and the people making the hiring decisions.

Resolution:

Remember that skills can be taught, but that experience, attitude and aptitude cannot.  An employer is more apt to hire and pay for experience if the individual has a positive attitude, as well as the aptitude and willingness to learn what they don’t know.  Your years of experience are only part of the equation to get hired.  Put yourself in the employers’ shoes, and realize that when they are making a decision, they are considering many particulars beyond the job for which you are applying, including existing team members and the cross-over, company culture, project owner and dynamics, location, budget, and training.  Don’t be too proud to ask for help, but ask from those who really know (not necessarily your buddies), and be humble and thankful while asking for feedback from an employer or recruiter who takes the time to contact you.  Just like dating, you may have to go on few bad dates before you get to the one to whom you want to commit, but what you learn along the way can be invaluable if you see what you did wrong.  As you focus on what you can do better, you become stronger and more attractive to those seeking to match with you!

Along with the more than 47,000 books about team building on Amazon, there are other ways to learn more about your personal communication style and, more importantly, how you react to other people and their communication styles.

Amazon in total has over a half million different book selections, but the bestselling Book of all time is the Bible which includes a proverb that says “Iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend (Proverbs 27:17).

So, where’s the “I” in TEAM It is each of us when we forget to make a conscious effort to see things from another’s perspective and communicate effectively.  Are you struggling with working on your current team?

We’re here to help if you need us!

Suzanne

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