5 June 2010

Playing nice in the sandbox

When I was younger I had a bicycle with a chain that would skip a link after about ten pedals and then it would fall off. I would have to stop and get off the bike and put the chain back on time and time again. I must have rode that bike for miles, pedaling and then getting off to fix the chain.  How frustrating! 

Sometimes it can feel the same way in the office. Some people don't play well in a team and can be like that link in the chain that keeps skipping.  It is frustrating to the rest of the team because they are trying to meet certain goals and when there is a problem it takes time away from the manager who has to deal with it, but also the whole team as they see the time ticking and production at a standstill.  They know that once the issue is resolved, they will then have to scramble to make up for lost time with the person causing the slow down seemingly unaware that what they are doing is hindering everyone else. 

I remember when my daughter was young and I would ask her to clean her room. She would spend more time complaining about it and whining than cleaning. She could have cleaned the whole house in the time it took her to get her room tidied up. It also kept taking my time away from what I was doing as I had to go back and try to get her focussed on the task she had to do.  I'm sure in my daughter's case she was not thinking that she was taking me away from my work when I had to go and tend to her, she was just thinking that she didn't want to do the job and wanted to let me know it.

What can you do if you are part of a team that is not playing well together?  I'm sure we've all had to deal with people problems at one time or another in our work life -- there is no perfect office. 
  • Be sure you are not part of the problem.  Are you doing your part and contributing to the goals of the team or are you getting bogged down with situations?  Each of us is responsible for what we do, not what others do or don't do.  Yes, it may not seem fair that Lois or Harry down the hall isn't pulling their weight, but you only need to be concerned with what you need to do.
  • Try modelling to your teammates what you think a good team player is by demonstrating it in your own work life.  Good team play can be contagious.  My mother used to always say, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  I think that is a good rule to work by.
  • A little encouragement can go a long way. My boss is a great encourager.  Because he is, it pushes me to want to perform better to meet his expectations.  Why don't you try a little encouragement with your teammates?  You might be surprised at the results.
Situations are sometimes complicated, but a good attitude and good work practices will go a long way toward making your work life more happy and productive.  Now go build some sandcastles together...

1 comment:

Erica said...

Funny...the office where I work uses that same term: playing nice in the sand box. The Director of my department says she sometimes feels as though she running a daycare, but sometimes people just can't "play nice". It's pretty basic stuff: share and co-operate, but sometime adults just forget, I suppose. Good Post!