Ordinary People Do Extraordinary Things

As team leader do you tell your team what the problem is, the solution you are looking for, and how you intend to get there? How’s that working for you and your team?

Some of you remember the preparations for the year 2000. There was a great deal of concern around the world that all businesses would shut down at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2000.
I was one of the leads on a five-member team at a multi-billion dollar electric utility. The mission of our team was to figure out how to engage our thousands of employees and management teams across the four states we served to communicate to our customers that the utility was prepared, all systems were go, and that power would continue to be generated and delivered through the New Year and beyond. We decided that we should empower, equip, and reward every employee to help communicate to their friends, families, clubs, churches, sport teams, etc. that they need not worry about electric power. We held town halls in many different towns across our service area to answer customer questions. We became recognized by Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world’s largest association of engineers, as the “Go To” company for Year 2000 preparedness. That got us invited to Sweden to share our plans. Five people reached “synergy”, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – five people impacting thousands became known around the world.

We were deliberate at making our preparation a collaborative, all-inclusive effort. We viewed all employees in the company as our partners in communicating our readiness so we could build trust and goodwill with our customers, our commissions, our suppliers, and our regulators.

Do you want to build synergy on your team or in your company?
Start an open dialogue by clarifying your purpose, desired outcomes, intent and concerns.
Examine and state your commitment to reaching mutual agreement.
Ask each person to share what is most important to him/her, allowing all parties to experience a “win.” (This is not the same as looking for a solution!)
Jointly brainstorm possible solutions, then evaluate the options and identify a solution that best meet the needs of all those affected, as well as the company.
Agree upon the actions to be taken by each team member.
Meet frequently to assess the value of the actions and what needs to be improved, eliminated or added to achieve the desired outcomes.

In the project I described, we created a shared pool of understanding through dialogue and recognizing everyone’s strengths. By building on that, a true effort towards collaboration, teamwork, and synergy was achieved. We accomplished more than the work of five people when we aligned on mission and pooled all of our talents. It’s a great experience when a team reaches synergy. Everyone wins.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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