Two types of employees

In my early working years I came across a manager who had a peculiar way of dealing with recruits. When a team member was on board, she allowed that person to do… nothing. After several days you could observe one of the following patterns:

Pattern 1: Passive

The employee waited for instructions, for work to be handed over. After a long enough period, when frustration levels became unbearable, the person started complaining and often quit.

Pattern 2: Active

After a short period of time, one could observe the “active” employee talking with other team members — gathering knowledge, building a network, setting up tools. It happened once or twice that the newly recruited person excelled in a given area in less than a month.

Conclusion

Two behaviors, one setting, two outcomes: one of disillusionment, second one — of confidence and strength.

Everyone has to find his or her place in this world. Still, if I were to choose a project team member, I would certainly opt for the “active” type.

First, build relations

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I was recently reminded how important it is to build relations between individual members of a team before any collaborative work is being initiated. And this isn’t solely a virtual teams’ issue. It’s common.

The trouble spot

What if someone disagrees with your opinion? What if you hear a remark that doesn’t *seem* all too kind? Or if someone pats you on the shoulder for some reason (and you don’t like it)? What if the message in your inbox is too short or too long, too harsh or too sweet?

We usually consult our internal judge. In practice, emotions often win – we complain, burst out, start arguing or exercise “assertiveness”. Even if we are able to refrain from any immediate reaction, we might be holding a grudge, collecting “minuses”, waiting for the right moment when our “patience tank” is empty and then.. well… we have to act.

But what if?

What if the other person was actually wrong? What if he or she made a mistake? Overestimated our sense of humor, didn’t realize patting on the shoulder didn’t necessarly work in our culture, misunderstood our “friendly signal”? What if that person didn’t figure out (somehow) that we had “one of those days…”?

Intentions are key

When you start by building relations, you realize the first thing you gain is trust in the other person’s good intent. Sometimes this means getting to know the traditions of a different culture, dealing with generalizations and prejudices, or any virtual barriers for that matter. 

“As human beings, we are all the same, there is no need to build some kind of artificial barrier between us.” – Dalai Lama

The bottom line

Trusting the good intentions behind another person’s actions, we often learn from hindsight, that indeed, they where pure, the reasoning understandable. For the team this understanding means higher likelihood of success in any endeavor, fewer conflicts in general, and more fun on the way.

First, build relations.