I was at a conference last week and one of the brilliant speakers made a comment about the people she would want programmed in her phone if the phone company told her that she could only have five phone numbers. Well that certainly gave me pause. My first thought was ‘who would I want for my five?’ And true to the speakers point, I did not want Negative Nelly on my list nor do I want Moper Mel or Naomi Know-it-All. Nelly focuses her conversations on everything that is wrong in her life, the world, her co-workers, the coffee in the break room, the paper in the copy machine…you know Nelly don’t you? Mel, well he tends to see the bleak side of things and every time he shares in a meeting it reminds you of Eeyore. (A couple of people have even left Eeyore trinkets on his desk.) Naomi Know-it-All will be there to save the day and give you the precise prescription for ‘dealing’ with Nelly and Mel and a list of others. She will also be the first to take credit for the success of all that is accomplished on her team and corner you in your office to tell you exactly how she did it.
Does Nelly work for you or in your organization? Do you find it difficult to address a situation with her because she immediately gets defensive and gives you the list, in her own words, of everything that is wrong with you and the company? Or maybe Mel roams your hallways sharing his dark cloud of despair and you avoid eye contact so that he doesn’t strike up a dismal conversation.
As a manager, you may have to have a difficult conversation to tell a person(s) on your team that no one wants to work with them. Or you don’t…you let the perpetrator get away with their behavior leaving the team as a whole less than happy and productive. Either way, it is uncomfortable for everyone involved. In David Cottrell’s book Monday Morning Leadership, the lesson is given that it is the leader’s responsibility to fill the buckets of those (s)he leads. This is done by knowing and giving your team what they need. You might say that Nelly, Mel and Naomi are the ‘dippers’ that Cottrell speaks of, those that take from our bucket. There are ways to find out how to give your team what they need, individually and as a group, aka filling their bucket. The first is to ASK them. Another is to have a clear understanding of the work-style and preferences of the players on your team. All of us are inspired and motivated in different ways. Likewise we like to work in different ways such as being given a lot of autonomy or preferring to have a specific list to accomplish; some prefer an energized and collaborative environment and others want quiet and contemplative space. The mastery is bringing it all together so that as a manager or even a conscientious co-worker, you are filling buckets of those around you. When you know what language your teammates, colleagues and co-workers are speaking you can better serve them and your organization. You can also help them to understand each other. Likely you will find that Nelly, Mel and Naomi simply have different work needs and that once satisfied will bring out their more authentic, and even pleasant, nature.
In my line of work one thing I get to do is help my clients establish ways to fill buckets. Each path is different but it all starts with first answering questions about themselves. As a self-test, reflect on the following:
- Are your work needs being met?
- Do you know what your work needs are?
- Do people want to work with you?
- Is it possible that your manager needs to have a conversation with you because no one wants to be on your team?
- Would you make someone’s list of five phone numbers?
When you have a good understanding of how you like to work, your motivations and your best qualities you can then support your team to be more productive and fulfilled and operating with full buckets.
This is the first in a series that I will be doing about teamwork. Working well together brings about more creative results, more focused time and more dollars to the bottom line. Click here to download a free Team Assessment to see if your team is on the same page, following the same path for your company’s success.
Lori Gorrell is a certified professional coach and corporate trainer focusing on helping companies engage their workforce and exceed their customer’s expectations. You can reach Lori at 440.548.2079 or Lori@UpwardSolutionsCC.com