Effective and harmonious team working. That has to be a goal for any team. But how do you get there, what are the key steps? Well knowing your colleagues’ triggers and traits is a good place to start and a big advantage.
by Lindsay Narey
If you’ve ever worked in any office anywhere, it’s likely you’ll have come across the following characters.
The colleague who grunts one-word answers first thing in the morning; the one whose curt and snotty emails leave you wondering if you’ve deeply offended them; the usually chatty person who appears to take a sudden vow of silence when it comes to speaking up in meetings.
What’s your response to these behaviours? Do you dismiss them as ‘just so and so and their ways’. Perhaps you’ve taken offence or acted surprised. Or maybe you’ve stopped and considered whether something else might be bothering these normally decent folk.
As a member of a busy comms team at a Housing Association, and as you wise comms people will know only too well, our jobs can be a challenge. We deal with people at all levels from right across the business. We get stuff landed on us at a moment’s notice; we have to be multi-skilled, know a bit about everything, and on occasion be mind-readers too.
To do all of this and to do it well, we need the support of each other and to know we can trust and rely on our team colleagues at times of stress. For that reason, I’m glad to be armed with the following simple bits of intel about my team:
One would much rather talk something through in person than send an email; one will clear the office vending machine of Kit Kats when under pressure. Another finds loud people intimidating and will stay quiet rather than try and compete with them. Another gets a twitching leg when things aren’t going great.
These nuggets of information are basic but invaluable - especially as lots of us are quite new to the business and we’ve not worked together for all that long.
Obviously my colleagues aren’t total strangers and I know a bit about them, but what seems a shame is that some of these preferences and personality traits only came to light as a result of a ‘How to work with me’ exercise we did at one of our team days.
Why didn’t we know these things about one another already?
Whether we like it or not, we spend a big chunk of our lives at work and much of this time is spent with people we didn’t necessarily choose ourselves. If you’re a flexible worker you might not always be physically sat with your team but chances are you’ll be communicating with them in some way all day and every day. If we took a bit of time to ask a few friendly questions and find out more about the people we work with and what makes them tick, we’d probably be a lot more efficient and productive.
In our Comms team, we’ve stored the results of the ‘How to work with me’ exercise in our team space on the intranet. They’re posted under each of our names with the headings ‘For best results’ and ‘Signs of trouble’.
But rather than have to call up the intranet to try and work out why someone doesn’t seem on form, hopefully those few hours spent in at our team get together encouraged us to talk and understand one another a bit more. That way we’ll know who to not invite to 8.30am meetings, who to avoid until they’ve had their tenth cappuccino, and who’d might need a bit of help when they’re making bird noises at their desk.
Lindsay Narey is Communications Executive at Metropolitan Housing
image via State Library of Queensland