Rain and dirt mixed together on a sports field create an inviting mess to dive into. I make this observation after watching many soccer and AFL games this season. I notice that most players are unfazed by the mess on the ground and instead focus on the game. Their prize for trying is a body covered in mud, wet boots and a memorable experience sliding on the ground.
So my observation of wet weather sport made me think about the way people choose to work.
Oh, that old sports analogy again
First of all my apologies for choosing the obvious analogy of sport and work. This is done to death so let's assume you can make the link without me explaining the obvious - like a team at work is like a team on the football field. Heard it haven't you!
What I want to bring to your attention is the parallel between players on the sports team and people at work willing to go there and still participate fully irrespective of circumstances.
Some assumptions on teams
There are a few assumptions I need to state.
- If you are on a team you are choosing to support the team's goal achievement.
- Being with others you aspire to get along and help each other out.
- You have an end goal in mind.
So what happens when the conditions for playing are less than ideal, even miserable. For example wet, windy, muddy, cold? In the sports team the players that are truly committed to the team show up anyway and put their all into playing. It is frustrating and more challenging but in the end even more rewarding when a goal is achieved under such challenging conditions. And if anyone wants to complain there is no point because both teams usually have the same weather, being on the same field and all. Also it is under these conditions that we see the true talent and skill of a player.
Lets jump now into the business world.
Everything looks good on the surface when conditions and circumstances are going well. But what happens when things turn pear shaped. What happens when your business is not performing well, or the economy puts pressure on your industry, you are in a down phase of a product life-cycle, the dollar went the wrong direction, or you face new competition?
Don't give up
Successful teams are the ones with people who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. These are the teams of people who stay focused on the goal, adjust the way that they have to work, look for more creative ways to get things done. It is not about work more or longer hours but really trying and not giving up.
How to get your team to play in the mud
So you say the workplace is serious and not a sports field. Yes so even more reason to try what you can to get through challenging conditions. A few suggestions to contemplate:
- Acknowledge the conditions.
- Be an example for others.
- Identify new ways to support people through these conditions.
- Adjust to more realistic targets and goal.
- Focus on your revised targets and goal.
- Reassess the talent in your team and realign to best fit the challenges.
- Regroup more frequently.
- Ask people in your team how they can contribute, get their ideas as well.
- Stay real about the experience.
- Share the load more and get all to contribute an extra bit rather than rely on a few to carry the weight.
- Take breaks to reenergise and look after yourself and others in whatever ways work.
Now I know, these are easy statements to write and harder to implement. Behind each of these statements are actions and things to do.
Yet I believe it goes deeper than that. It is a mindset. First we can develop and hold the belief and view that we can get through a situation no matter what the circumstances or challenges. It also becomes a state of personal being where each individual has to be willing to put the effort in because they want to. So fostering and developing the commitment through encouragement and support is paramount.
Think now so you can take the best action
My view is that if you don't start thinking about the statements you will never take the actions. So if you are a leader of others or have a role in a team that directs and guides take a moment to consider the above. How would you implement these with your own personal actions? What if it was you who had to roll up your sleeves? What if it IS you?
I encourage you to have the conversation NOW about what you and your team can do and how you can be in the way you approach whatever curves get thrown your way.
Let's go there...