Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Best Team

In team-building workshops, I often ask participants to identify the most memorable team of which they have been a member. This can be an athletic team, a church committee, a work task force, a service group—whatever rises to the top in your experience of working with other people.

The one that I think of most often was work-related. The organization of which I was a part was involved in the implementation of Total Quality Management. We had spent a good bit of time and money on TQM and several of us had been trained as facilitators. I was asked to lead a team to work on a personal performance review process for the organization. Not very exciting, you say? Actually, it was a great experience. Our team was made up of people from several departments. We had support staff, program consultants, and a couple of department directors.

We worked hard at the task, despite our busy schedules and other commitments. We made some small but significant breakthroughs. For example, we decided that we wanted to come up with a process that emphasized not only evaluation but development. The meeting between employee and supervisor would emphasize not only the employee’s past work but their plans and aspirations for the future.

When our work was completed, we presented it to executive leadership and received positive response and good comments. A time to orient the staff was set, and we prepared a presentation for everyone. Unfortunately, our CEO had second thoughts and asked some questions that indicated that he was less than pleased with the approach. This took “the wind out of our sails.” Although adopted, the process was never fully initiated throughout the organization.

This may look like a failure, but I still count this as one of my best group experiences, right alongside some mission trips and church teams. Why? The team worked well together, recognized each member’s unique gifts, and called out the best in one another. We accepted the task, gave it our best shot, and were justifiably confident that we produced a process that would benefit our organization and its employees. We all learned and grew as a result of our participation on the team.

Although good relationships and a quality result are pretty good rewards in themselves, the moral of this story is that the group became a team, not just a gathering of individuals. We cared about each other and the task at hand. That makes work fun!

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