“But, I Just Don’t Like Her!” How To Build Effective Teams Even With Those You Don’t Like
How to build effective teams
One of the biggest mistakes leaders and consultants have made is to create the impression that good teamwork means that everyone needs to like each other.
While it is nice to like your teammates, it is not necessary. It is necessary to have mature, adult, working relationships - an achievable goal.
Like me, I'm sure you've had or now have, a colleague you're not thrilled to work with, right? Someone who pushes your buttons or someone you'd prefer to avoid. Yet for you to do your job well, you need to be able to work effectively with him or her. You may need a very high level of technical expertise to do your job, but unless you can relate well with your co-workers - even your least favorite ones - your productivity and that of your business, can suffer.
So, how can you find it within yourself to have an effective working relationship with such a co-worker?
Keep in mind that despite how you feel about that person, the working relationship is important to you and that has value. The fundamental human relations skillslike those taught in leadership training courses like Dr. Thomas Gordon's Leader Effectiveness Training become even more important in this situation.
The most critical skills include:
Non-judgmental confrontation of unacceptable behavior
While it is easy to make assumptions, criticize, blame, etc., remember that what is important is to influence a change in the behavior. Avoiding all of that unproductive and unnecessary baggage becomes imperative. Stick with the facts. What is the behavior that is causing you a problem? How does that interfere with your needs? How important is it? Stay away from all of the assumptions about the other person's intentions or motives. No matter how smart you are, you never really know those things.
Keep in mind that listening and truly understanding the other's point of view does not mean that you must agree with them. Effective listening, especially good active listening can go a long way to reduce the emotional temperature and to set the stage for understanding the facts of a situation. It costs you very little to listen carefully and to take the step of verifying your understanding. Put your understanding into words and give the other person a chance to confirm or disconfirm it. Don't be so quick to advise, question, or dismiss their concerns.
Try to achieve win/win outcomes when there are conflicts. This does not mean compromise. Stay firm when it comes to your needs but be flexible about the solutions. So often, a little patience and a systematic problem solving approach can reveal solutions that are not immediately apparent.
When I encounter someone I just don't like but I need to work with, I try to remind myself that I depend on them to be effective in my job. Not easy! But, it's a lot better than the alternatives: avoidance, anger, frustration, anxiety, stress, etc. In fact, these are the times when the skills become even more valuable because they are the tools that I need to relate and work with people on a level that is straightforward and productive and respectful.
Leadership training that helps participants focus on these basic human relations skills will go a long way toward helping your organization build effective teams. Don't get caught up in trying to make everyone feel better or be friends with everyone else. Over time, people may learn to like one another better and some friendships may develop. But, that is not the goal of effective team building. The objective is to create a functional group that can get the job done and to do so in an environment of mutual respect. After all, we are adults.
© 2011 William Stinnett, Ph.D., L.E.T. Master Trainer for Gordon Training International
Bill Stinnett, Ph.D. has educated and coached more than 10,000 executives, managers, and other professionals in leadership, communication, problem solving, and facilitation skills. He has facilitated the team building, strategic planning, or implementation plans of hundreds of management teams. He has received consistently superior ratings in his training seminars, which include Leader Effectiveness Training, Facilitator Development Workshop, Team Leader Training, Total Quality Management, Continuous Quality Improvement, Total Cycle Time, and many others.
As a Master Trainer for Gordon Training International Bill has conducted Leader Effectiveness Training Workshops, Train-the-Trainer Workshops, and supervised trainer candidates in a wide variety of organizations across the country including Medtronic, Merck & Co., Inc., W.L. Gore & Associates, Fort James Corporation, Weyerhaeuser, and Walt Disney Imagineering. Internationally Bill has conducted workshops for the Republic Bank of Trinidad in Port of Spain, Trinidad/Tobago, Merck in Montreal, Hong Kong and Singapore, Nama Chemicals in Saudi Arabia, Medtronic in P.R.C and Cabot Microelectronics in Japan.
Over the past fifteen years, Bill has written many articles regarding organization development for regional and national publications. He also is co-author of the book, Corporate Madness: How to Change the System When the System Refuses to Change.
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