Friday, September 26, 2008

The I in Team

Considering my last post generated enough heated comments , I thought I might just take on another issue by the horns..or atleast by its tail.
My team is remote, spread across different states in the US and in some cases geographies. So this kind of working has its perks (People don’t notice if your making faces over the phone) and its lows (You may be really good friends with someone, but you have no clue what they look like!). I have worked with fully stationed teams also, I miss the camaraderie that we share over coffee and the team lunch at the end of a project (that one I really really miss, including the time in office after that where all you do is wait for the sleep and digestion to take over :) ! ).

I have to say that working in a remote team has taught me a lot about working and dealing with people. First impressions are not formed on looks or mannerisms but on speech and points put across. Of there are times, when these first impressions are way off base because a person can be silent on the first call, but start warming up after that or they can be really confident , but you realize later that after a few calls, they are stuck with one point alone and don’t have too much to contribute.
I used to be the one who used to sleep through Organizational behavior classes in college, but I have to say the cramming that I did the day of the exam now comes back to haunt me. The real team training I had was in college. It’s really easy to talk about team spirit, but to have 8 different individuals trying to merge ideas into a 6 minute presentation is a whole different ball game. But that’s the essence of team to me. Pushing a point which you think will help, but also ready to let go sometimes of a brainwave, which seems important to you but totally ignored by the rest of the team. But there are some team players who do tick me off because they forget that the point of doing work together is to get to a destination or final product, not completion of their task alone. Listing these team gems in the descending order that they annoy me!

The Garrulous speakers: For a 30 minute meeting, they spend the first 22 minutes, describing what they think the problem is and they might want to do about it. Of course by the time I wake up when they finish, we have to schedule another meeting because nothing has been sorted out. Of course the worse ones are those who have spent considerable time in the organization, who would like to start every meeting from the day they joined. I like history but talking about life in 1962 is not really what I want to listen to at lunchtime on Monday afternoon.

Defensive ones: “I didn’t do /think/ say or even imagine that”. You can’t have a discussion or even a conversation, when a team member is constantly defending their actions or blaming others. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is say “I made a mistake, let us discuss what we can do to rectify it”. It’s that simple. I have a colleague, to whom we are afraid to send a mail to. He acts if each one is a personal attack against him or his person.

Emotional ones: These are the team players who think every word you say is a hidden insult against their person. I had just joined a new project, and was working with someone who had been on that assignment a few decades. I noticed her tone was becoming more remote and one day she had a breakdown on the phone, yelling at me. Finally when she calmed down, and apologized, I asked her what I had said or done to make her loose her cool. Her answer was that I mentioned “I don’t understand” a few times and that to her was insulting!!!!! Now how did that translate to me berating her, believe me I don’t know, but those words set her off. In the end, I finally figured out that she disliked me taking the place of the former colleague and as I didn’t treat her with the same similarity she felt insulted. An office atmosphere is precisely the place, where personal feelings have to set aside. If you have a problem with a person’s attitude or speech, talk to them. This is where interactions cannot be based on liking or disliking of personality but on getting work done.

Hitler’s relative: They are the self appointed and unwanted leaders of tasks or projects, who constantly look over your shoulder. We have the official managers, who do the same tasks but I really dislike the ones who want to be involved in everything each member of the team does. They want to know what each team member is doing at every point in time, be involved in every meeting and finally cause confusion when it comes down to basic responsibility. We had one person on our team who drove the rest of nuts doing just that. Till one of my colleagues, just spoke to her on how the rest of rest of us felt about her being team players. She has quietened down since .

Credit Snatchers and Name droppers: These ones like telling the big bosses, they were part of the core team who came up with the solution. Of course their contribution would have a forwarding note to you. Usually they also love dropping names. Their sentences usually start with “Well when I worked with this VP or director”. But the worst part is when they go directly to the top managers, without speaking to the team or worse snitching about the team. Usually any team has its ups and downs, but the ones who spread the stories I think are the most despicable. You really can’t change these people because they thrive on getting ahead at the cost of the team as a whole.

Also if something is bothering you, Communicate. With the strict guidelines of manner of communication blurring, it’s easier to talk to the person who you are working with day in and out. I believe that there is an I in team. But the point of the I is to relate to the others, so as to grow, learn and contribute. Each interaction is an experience, which may be good, bad or ugly. But to turn into something that you can grow on, that’s where the “I” plays a major role.

And finally a short story that I grew up with and a joke, hope this makes you smile and think

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

1.Since my last report, he has reached rock bottom and has started to dig.
2.His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiosity.
3.I would not allow this associate to breed.
4.Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap.
5.When she opens her mouth, it seems that this is only to change whichever foot was previously in there.
6.He would be out of his depth in a puddle.
7.This young lady has delusions of adequacy.
8.She sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.
9.This associate should go far - and the sooner he starts the better.
10.This associate is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.

Keep Smiling ppl


Blogger SMM said...

Hey Anu...excellent stuff. I'd like to add another category here -

The Chamchas of the boss - the ones who sit around giving orders to everyone and if someone doesn't like what they say, then they immediately mail/ call the big boss complaining about people not being team players and not cooperating

9:07 PM  
Blogger Fantasies of a Lifetime said...

Nice post & hialrious jokes , as always

11:25 PM  
Blogger Cess said...

he he, nice post! In the team i m working we have one who is not a team player at all, he does not bother share best practices, nor cominng to the meeting. When we raised the issue to the manager, he said he was feeling that we were attacking him! And by 'we' I mean girlswhich was even more funny :D
Unfortunately I think in a team u can t get necessarily along with everybody, we re hoping they will be civilized enough to do their job whether they like u or not.

1:06 AM  
Blogger Ani said...

nice one anu

i know i have had couple of these emotional kind of team mates.. and boy was that fun.. in the end u just couldnt do anything .. but had to find out someway to work around them..

the boss.. well had shades of hitler.. hehe at times.. so to speak..hehe but yes it was fun.. all the ranting's during coffee breaks.. the lunch out's.. those were the days..

lovely post as always..
hope ur havin a nice weekend..:)

2:55 AM  
Blogger Keshi said...

I work in this fantastic company in a superb TEAM. We hv no personal issues with each other, neither do we feel we lack the team spirit. We r absolute professionals and FRIENDS too. And I know its a RARE!

Nice post Anu!


8:08 PM  
Blogger The Seeker said...

Nice one liked it very much, and now being in a team! it somehow happens that all my classmates had been my teammates, That's a diff kind of official relationship all together,, @ times, I don know whether one should look at them as persons or their performance.! but what i learned is to count the persons and not their performance...

10:37 PM  
Blogger Anu said...

@SMM: I kinda clubbed the chamchas with the credit snatchers,you can never trust those people in any team
@Priya : :)
@Cess:Welcome.. and I hope you get a better boss as well..
@Ani:emotional team mates are majorly irritating and your right
@Keshi:May you always be blessed with these kinds of team mates :)!
@ Barat:your right at looking the person, but sometime when are really annoying i have to remind myself that they are good performers

10:36 AM  
Blogger Keshi said...

aww ty sweetz!


10:00 PM  
Blogger Ani said...

i know anu
tell me about it..

especially if it is someone who sits right next to you.. its not good.. and this gets triggered by anything and everything been said or happening around them.. they always end up thinking.. oh its me.. and because of that attitude you kind of feel down as well..

4:41 AM  
Blogger uma kumar said...

is there a category of bosses..."who would not communicate" for reasons best known to them...either unfound fears that youngsters would infuse new ideas..which by itself no bad

i am of the firm view that there is no such thing as a bad boss or a good one...
but i have a "Detached Boss"
tough call

ur study can help OB theory better
"think of writing an article to a magazine
god post

10:26 PM  
Blogger Solitaire said...

That's one perk of WORKING. You get to interact with a zillion different types of personalities, whether remote or face to face. Its fun!

3:04 PM  
Blogger SMM said...

Hey where did ya disappear Anu?

5:54 AM  

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