| Work and development

Development and team cooperation

Does it happen to you that you receive a task and your boss does not ask about the progress or remind you of the result? Or the other way round: every now and then he calls you, gives you more details and you do not know whether you should start or wait for further instructions?

Joanna Maras
Marketing Communication & Design Specialist

Or if you are a supervisor, do you face a situation in which you want to help your employee, but he/she dismisses you and wants to act alone? Or maybe he/she keeps asking and making sure, letting you know that you are not being precise enough? Development is to blame!

If so, it is very good! The first step is already behind you – you are aware that something is not right. Such self-awareness is necessary to take action. But it’s not just about finding a solution, it’s about understanding the cause.

A team, like a cat, has many lives

We’re not necessarily talking about 9 lives. But it’s true that any team that has experienced staffing changes begins to function similarly to a brand new team. Bruce Tuckman’s diagram of the team life cycle (Figure 1) illustrates this brilliantly – a formative phase occurs each time there is a change in personnel. That is, the initial mistrust, the delineation of one’s area of expertise, and finally the lapping phase, i.e. minor conflicts, are inevitable and even desirable.

An undisturbed norming phase will lead to the implementation phase, the moment when the team becomes an almost self-organizing unit.

Figure 1
Figure 1

What employee development has to do with the team

In real life, however, personnel changes occur constantly and dynamically. Someone comes, someone leaves, someone gets promoted, someone feels burned out – some teams will have to wait longer to develop and reach their peak productivity phase.

The situation is difficult for both sides. Experienced employees, who are already more independent and know their area of activity very well, clash with someone new, who may need instruction and motivation. The supervisor, who has previously managed a mature team, is torn between treating everyone equally and being supportive of the new team member. And since it’s usually impossible to make everyone happy, eventually everyone is more or less unhappy.

Everyone in a different phase – how to live?

In addition to the team development phases, each of us is also in our own personal development phase as an employee. Ken Blanchard, author of many best-selling management books, has defined 4 phases that we go through in our careers (Figure 2). Not everyone, of course, always starts at phase 1, the “enthusiastic rookie” with little knowledge but making up for it with proactivity. And not everyone ends up in phase 4 as an “independent expert”. Each of us develops in an individual way. It happens that, for various reasons, we start our work from the phase of disappointment or as a “cautious practitioner”. That is, with very low motivation and a high need for support from the superior. Such a great divergence of competences, knowledge and needs, as well as the dynamics of the team itself, certainly do not facilitate effective task completion. Especially when everyone wants to take care of their comfort zone and their own development. So how to make this diverse team of people with different expectations and capabilities achieve high efficiency faster?

Figure 2
Figure 2

Hundreds of problems – one solution

Maybe in a few years, the discoveries of business psychology will allow us to find a universal recipe for the ills of teamwork. But for now, we have to be content with the simplest, yet most difficult method to apply, namely communication. There is nothing more effective than an open dialogue based on the exchange of expectations – both on the part of the supervisor, the employee, and the co-workers. Friendly atmosphere and flexibility during defining the areas of competence can do wonders. They can not only push an employee towards becoming an independent expert, but also bring the whole team closer to the final stage of development.

What is this open dialogue? What should such conversations look like? Unfortunately, there is no ready recipe for this – some of us prefer a discussion on the forum during morning meetings, and others only talk to our supervisor or the specialist who is training us. Regardless of the form of communication you choose, it is worth thinking in advance about your own stage of professional development – if I am an “enthusiastic rookie”, I do not need motivation, but only direct management, i.e. receiving tasks with detailed instructions. On the other hand, a “cautious practitioner” who already knows how to do his or her job and only needs support, either because of lack of confidence in their abilities or because of a sense of burnout, will have completely different needs.

Let’s develop together

This self-diagnosis is a very important step in professional development, and even more important for the whole team. If we look with empathy not only at ourselves, but also at our subordinates, our colleagues, and finally at our superiors, it will certainly be easier for us to understand the mechanisms that drive each of us. And the resultant of these behaviors are the effects of our work together.

Competencies should be divided not into "hard and soft skills" but into "hard and human skills".
Simon Sinek
author of such bestsellers as "Start with Why" and "Leaders Eat Last"

If you are interested in the topic of effectiveness and development in teamwork, I encourage you to reach for the books by Ken Blanchard. In the books “Legendary Customer Service” and “The One-Minute Manager” you will find a lot of inspiration to implement not only in your professional life. As Simon Sinek, author of such bestsellers as “Start with Why” and “Leaders Eat Last” says, competencies should be divided not into “hard and soft skills” but into “hard and human skills”.

And it is the human competences that we should develop continuously. Regardless of whether we are a member of a small or large team, a manager, a supervisor or a specialist, we are all people.

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