“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” ~ Henry Ford
It is interesting to watch teams form up in the workplace. The phases a group of individuals move through as they bond to form a unified team are somewhat predictable, yet the pace of that development varies wildly from group to group. Of particular interest to me are small teams, say of two or three people, as much of the work done in small businesses depends on the company’s ability to quickly form small teams under frequently changing circumstances.
The first step as Henry Ford so succinctly laid out is for the individuals involved to come together. This rapprochement is facilitated by certain attitudes and approaches, such as civility, patience, careful listening and respect and retarded by other less dignified modes of expression like hostility, impatience, pushiness and disdain.
You would think that shared vision would equate to cooperation, but I have witnessed on far too many occasions groups of individuals dedicated who share a common goal fail due to an unwillingness to (1) put aside differences in style, (2) forgive past transgressions or (3) grow internally in relation to the need at hand. Such failures are a sad testament to human stubbornness, really.
To come together, you must be flexible, capable of seeing even the most familiar people in new ways and willing to give people a fresh start…every time you meet. Grudges and other forms of prejudice are the death knell of a potentially generative collaboration.
You can’t really keep together until you’ve come together. Mutual respect is the glue that binds teams together. Anything less than respect dissolves the bonds, oftentimes more quickly than they can be formed. Teams that are held together on the basis of “mutually assured destruction” (I can destroy you and you can destroy me so we had better just get along) will not withstand much pressure, neither will they be much fun to work in or around. The atmosphere of such arrangements whiffs of poison.
Keeping together, without the usual careless expression of snide remarks, disparaging comments and declarations of self-righteous indignation is real progress. Rare is the group that works together cleanly, efficiently and seamlessly, so my suggestion is that you do not wait until you find one, but instead, raise your personal bar to the level that you know is possible and stick to your guns! Don’t take offense if it is offered, never quit and don’t resort to the “devil’s tactics” to get a job done. Gentlemanly and ladylike conduct is of the utmost importance no matter how ugly things may appear round about.
If you manage to keep together over time, through the good times and the bad, you are then entitled to claim that your team does in fact work together. And as Henry Ford said so well, “Working together is success.” When a team works together, the hard earned respect and trust is not compromised by shifts in configuration, changing tactics, differences in opinion the loss or gain of team members. Neither is the level of camaraderie as the pressure rises and falls around the team. Respect reigns supreme when a team truly works together.
If you value friendships, live in a family or work in a company, you are wise to consider the true significance of Henry Ford’s words today. A compromise on any one of these points will tear at the fabric of your team. Conversely, a breakthrough on any one of these points will introduce a unifying, harmonizing force into the team dynamic.
The choice is yours!