Teams are only as effective as the individuals who are part of them. The problem with teamwork, then, is often an issue of individuals lacking adequate communication skills, lacking a clear understanding of roles, or lacking the initiative to do what needs to get done.
Have you ever seen a teammate or colleague just walk past a piece of trash on the hallway floor? That is a great test of ownership versus employee mentality.
I always repeated the mantra to my athletes that if it’s to be, it’s up to me. What we do as individuals is emulated by our teammates. I always stopped to pick up trash because I wanted my team to take the initiative to pick up the trash they saw, instead of waiting on someone else.
The plague of that’s not my job can be dangerous to your culture. I came across a funny but relevant and powerful eulogy that perhaps you and your team will want to celebrate. Yes, you heard that correctly.
Here is the eulogy:
“I know that all of you were saddened to learn this week of the death of one of our most valuable teammates Someone Else. Else’s passing created a vacancy that will be difficult to fill. Someone has been with us for many years, and for every one of those years, Someone did far more than the normal person’s share of the work.
Whenever leadership was mentioned, this wonderful person was looked to for inspiration as well as results. Someone Else can work with that group. Whenever there was a job to do, a workshop to lead, or a meeting to attend, the same name was on everyone’s lips. Let Someone Else do it. It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the largest givers of time and talent in our organization.
Someone Else was a wonderful person, sometimes even appearing super-human. And the truth is that everyone expected too much of Someone Else. Now Someone Else is gone. And we are left to wonder what to do now. Someone Else left us all a wonderful example to follow, but who is going to follow it? Who is going to do the things Someone Else did? Remember, we can’t depend on Someone Else anymore.”
Once someone else is given a fitting and respectable funeral ceremony in your organization, perhaps you and your team will enjoy the benefits of improved individual initiative.
Rather than thinking that’s not my job, and expecting things will be done by someone else, the above eulogy could be a clever catalyst to inspire your people to clarify roles, to communicate needed changes and improvements, and to take initiative when they see something needs to be done.
If the eulogy doesn’t work, you might want to consider a team building event to boost your morale and productivity or a custom team workshop to address and resolve a common issue that your group may be experiencing.
Want your team to pass the trash on the hallway floor test? Convince everyone that someone else is gone, and the team is desperately depending on each of them to sink or swim. Remember, if it’s to be, it’s up to me.