Last night I watched one of my favorite movies, “Sister Act”. Whoopi Goldberg’s character gets tasked to harmonize a dysfunctional choir. She starts by listening to each nun sing a musical note. Next reconfigures the group so they are standing next to their counterparts based on their melody. Finally, she has them all sing a note together as a harmonious choir. But what comes out is simply awful! You would think if they all sounded great as soloists, together they would sound amazing. That was not the case. Not surprising, Whoopi’s response was “you all need to listen to one another!”
We can use this movie as an analogy for the workplace when forming a team. Each person in the team may be a subject matter expert within their domain and are great at what they do. Yet when they are placed in a team, conflict and discord occurs. Why? Because each person is still working as a soloist instead of being part of the group.
Getting the right people on a team is just part of the winning formula to have an effective team at work. The other piece of the puzzle is having them accept each other and the leader. Acceptance comes with trust and trust comes when people feel they can be vulnerable without repercussions. Unless each team member takes the time to learn about the other people in the team, their expertise will hinder instead of benefiting the team dynamics.
Understanding one another is vital to becoming a performing team. A performing team needs to build trust which can only be done if they interact with one another. Interacting means communicating and actively listening to one another. Teams will function with high performance once they understand each member’s preferred working styles and strengths. Just like a choir, the team learns how to use each member’s style to optimize the overall team performance. Next time you find yourself working as part of a team, assess whether you are making beautiful music or just static noise!