There’s no ‘I’ in Team…… What nonsense!


How many ‘Team Effectiveness’ courses or workshops have you been on or seen where this statement is used?


The basic premise is that selfish thoughts and deeds should be suppressed in favour of actions that will contribute to and enhance the effectiveness of the collective team performance. Consequently everybody is happier in a more productive environment.


Let me give you an alternative, perhaps even controversial viewpoint. The slogan ‘there’s no ‘I’ in Team’ is fundamentally flawed and those team members and team managers who outwardly subscribe to it are creating a short term illusion of improvement.


My experience is that there is an ‘I’ in Team – in fact it’s a capital ‘I’ and there are as many as there are team members, and it stands for Individuals!


More importantly each of these individuals has different goals, fears, motivations and ways of seeing the world. If we ‘gloss’ over these by not understanding and managing the aspirations and expectations that surround them, we are inviting issues like reduced team performance, decreasing individual team member effectiveness and increased staff churn in the short to medium and long term.


The reality is that whilst we may all, on the face of it want to contribute to the ‘Team Effort’ to varying degrees, human nature dictates that our primary behaviours will be centred around delivering, managing or satisfying our basic goals, fears, motivations and way of seeing the world.


Clearly we need to understand each team members’ individual fears, goals, motivations and way of seeing the world, but how do you uncover these and more importantly what do you do with the information?


It’s probably easier than you think. If you accept that behaviour is the outward manifestation of our personalities, then the key is to understand behaviours. The starting point is an old Chinese proverb; ‘to understand others, one must first seek to understand oneself’.


So imagine if every team member and manager is educated to understand their own behavioural style, and the impact it has on the people around them, the next stage would be to help them understand the differing behavioural styles of their peers.


This knowledge is priceless for two reasons. Firstly if you as a manager understand my behaviour, you subsequently will understand what’s driving my behaviour – my goals, fears, motivation and way of seeing the world. Through this process you learn with ease how to present information to me, manage my expectations, motivate and incentivise me as an individual.


Secondly this increased knowledge and awareness amongst team members generally means their ability, acceptance and willingness to cooperate with each other increases significantly and permanently. After all, through understanding comes tolerance, acceptance and a willingness to work together for a common goal.


We’ve all tried ‘glossing over’ the problem before, but the reality is that it is more time consuming and more costly for all sorts of reasons than dealing with it properly. Accept the fact that everybody in your team is a great big capital Individual just like you are, and talk to us about how you can use that to your advantage!