“I really don’t connect very well with my colleague. We just don’t have much in common. But we have to work together to successfully complete this project. What should I do?”
Many of us have been in this situation. And it’s not ideal. But unless you’re the CEO, you don’t often get to choose your colleagues. So how can you most effectively negotiate in a team environment?
1. Use your EQ skills
Daniel Goleman, in his groundbreaking bestseller Emotional Intelligence, focuses on our ability to identify, assess and control our emotions as well as others’ emotions. These skills are crucial in team environments.
As international management consultant Susan Sneider put it in a recent talk I heard entitled “Emotional Intelligence for Successful Teams,” this means you need to:
- Be self-aware and recognize your feelings;
- Self-regulate your emotions and stifle your negative impulses;
- Harness your emotions to help you achieve your group’s goal;
- Exhibit empathy and focus on your colleagues’ emotions and needs by stepping into their shoes; and
- Use your social skills to manage how others interact with you (don’t push their hot buttons, etc.).
Sneider also noted that a team’s EQ – which measures how well a team is attuned to and understands each other, manages healthy conflict and reduces unhealthy conflict – “builds trust, group identity and a sense of group efficacy.”
According to Sneider, the research is clear – the greater a group’s EQ, the higher the group’s performance.
Are these easier said than done? Of course. But each is essential to team success.
2. Keep your eyes on the prize
“The economy, stupid” was famously written on the wall of the Bill Clinton campaign headquarters when he ran for president in 1992. Why? To focus every team member on the core message that they felt would deliver them the White House.
It worked, despite the huge number of distractions that inevitably erupt in presidential campaigns.
My recommendation? Collaboratively develop a group-wide strategic plan – and put it in writing with your group’s goal prominently identified upfront. Then get each team member to commit by signing off on it.
Then review your goals and the written plan when distractions arise.
3. Focus on effective communication
Open and honest communication between team members is fundamental to a team’s ability to achieve success. Effective team interaction and communication – according to Goleman, Sneider, Patrick Lencioni (author of The Five Disfunctions of a Team) and Adel B. Lynn (author of The EQ Difference: A Powerful Plan for
Putting Emotional Intelligence to Work) – should also focus on:
- developing trust;
- creating accountability;
- ensuring commitment;
- providing motivation;
- encouraging creativity
- maintaining flexibility;
- fostering positive chemistry between team members; and
- determining a process to healthily resolve team conflicts.
And if you don’t do this, be aware that the absence of these elements constitute the reasons many teams underperform – or worse yet – simply fail.
4. Emphasize the team
We all have strengths and weaknesses. In teams, we need to identify, engage and encourage everyone’s strengths. We also need to recognize, sometimes acknowledge, and avoid relying on others’ weaknesses.
Bottom line – figure out the best individual person for each task. But always remember it’s a team effort.
Latz’s Lesson: Successful teams require EQ, clear goals and communication, and a team effort. It also sometimes requires you to take one for the team.
Published February 14, 2016 The Arizona Republic