Are You a Member of the Team?

football_goalMy 15-year old had knee surgery yesterday; it was his 2nd surgery in three months.  The first procedure was performed on his left knee in May, yesterday his surgeon repaired his right knee.  Prior to surgery, he endured much pain and many hours of physical therapy – he has many more months of rehabilitation ahead of him.  Why go through this at such an early age?  To be a part of the team…

I am the parent of a teenager who desperately wants to be a member of the team – he is a football and lacrosse player who spent last year on the sidelines.  Unfit for play, he suited up each and every game last season to support and cheer his teammates.  As I waited for his surgeon to complete the procedure yesterday, I pondered the irony of it all.  My son hungers for team membership and yet I speak to professionals who lament to me about “bad” team experiences.  How and why does the divide occur?

The benefits of team membership are strong, regardless of team type or size.  No matter what age, we all reap the same opportunities through teams.  Team participation keeps us active, gives us an opportunity to socialize, and enables us to unify around a common goal.  The advantages of team involvement are many and the benefits are not limited to team members.  Benefactors include individual team members, the group as a whole, the entity who has a vested interest in the team’s success, and the customers.  Team success requires dedication of time, energy, and a strong belief in the team’s ability to succeed.

 All teams can become more successful by following four simple steps:

  1. Define the Team:  Know what you need, not who you need.  Skill set, subject matter expertise, functional knowledge, and specialized experience must guide the selection process.  A candidate’s ability to perform in a team setting must also be assessed.
  2. Clarify Team Goals:  Make sure everyone on the team knows the team’s goals and each member of the team has defined roles and responsibilities.
  3. Identify Supporting Behaviors:  Identify specific actions and behavioral characteristics that will best support team goals and establish a team environment.  Establish operating practices that allow everyone to be equally committed to a common purpose, set of goals, and working approach.
  4. Establish Accountability:  Discuss and decide how you and others on your team will be held accountable to team expectations.  Ideally, accountability is both individual and shared; effectiveness is measured by the group’s collective outcomes and products. 

No matter what recipe you follow to create team success, there is one required ingredient:  You must want to be a member of the team.  As the great Vince Lombardi said, “Individual commitment to a group effort-that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

 Just ask my son, Geoff. He’ll be on the field again this fall.  Playing or not—he’ll be suited up, supporting the team.

Lisa DiTullio, Principal, Lisa DiTullio & Associates, LLC

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