Get To Know Your Team and Enjoy All Talents
Job titles do not paint the complete picture. Search for what you don't know.
How well do you know the people you work with?
Analysts, business developers, IT project managers, marketing specialists, researchers, etc.
All of them have one thing in common. They are not their job titles. At work, we tend to be short-sighted. We have job descriptions and checklists. If this, then that. We are taught to standardize and follow certain processes.
Rubbish. It leads to either bureaucracy in the case of hierarchical organizations or ignorance if you are in a flat structure.
I want you to look at your teammates, (internal) stakeholders, and work friends with foreign eyes. Like you have never met them. No biases. No CV descriptions. Nothing.
Tabula rasa. Now go and find out as much as you can. Do this exercise, and you’ll discover new ways of working. Collaboration becomes much more productive when you know how to utilize your natural talents. It is a win-win.
Benefits of getting to know other people
Work is a fun place. You meet people you have nothing in common with and about whom you would not care in your private life.
You shouldn't rush to judgment so quickly.
Spending more than eight hours a day with people you don’t know or care about is quite a lot. Work is a lonely place, but it does not have to be. There are many benefits to getting to know others. Don’t leave boring colleagues out. They might be cool too!
Key benefits are:
Find out about interests and hidden talents. (Did you know I paint, play chess, or prepare for a half marathon?)
Internal mobility. You do not need to look externally but rather use your internal resources.
Team bonding and relationships make people feel like they belong. It creates a sense of psychological safety.
Successful collaboration and productivity. You cover each other’s back and can handle whatever comes your way together.
Knowledge and creativity. Try putting different people with different talents together. Magic happens. Don’t care about titles. Care about what you know about them.
Conflicts of ideas and innovation. You can challenge each other without being offended and bring innovation.
Getting to know other people doesn't work like an interrogation. You need common experience and time together.
Can you think of other benefits? Please tell us in chat.
I collected some food for thought during my tenure as a manager:
How to find out about hidden talents and interests
Do not underestimate the power of coffee breaks and lunches. Casual conversations help get pieces of the puzzle.
All you need to do is listen carefully. How do people spend their weekends? What do they like to do? What do they read or take a course on?
Then it is much easier to pass them opportunities that align with their interests. A person who keeps a journal can be great at knowledge management. A person who paints might have an eye for marketing materials. A runner can organize sports challenges for team building.
People feel better in a team culture if they can act like themselves.
Play Sherlock Holmes and see what’s around you.
1. Different environments
If you want to get to know someone, take them out. Regardless of how hipster the office is, it is still an office. People slide into some role the moment they enter the reception.
Get out of the office, and it will go easier.
Three occasions show you different sides of your beloved coworkers:
Drinks after work
Night out (like Christmas dinners, team building events, etc.)
Sports events (ideally as participants).
Traveling (off-site hiking, business trips)
2. Task and position rotation
Teams can get isolated and too focused. Then it becomes an us vs them situation. That sucks. Get to know each other by:
Swapping team members. Put them into unexpected roles. E.g., be an accountant for a week.
Ask them strategic questions. How would they do business development?
Send behind-the-scenes people with a team who negotiates with clients.
3. Don’t know the game
The 'I don't know' game is my favorite way to get to know other people. People often come for confirmation while they have the answers.
Don't give them all the answers, and don't solve their problems.
Go to them with questions. Even the basic ones.
Send them to other people to ask. “I am not sure. Ask Tony for that.”
You learn so much about people if you do not treat them cheaply. Leadership is truly about working with your natural inclinations and interests. Sometimes leaders tend to hold their teams tight. Try to empower others and see what they are capable of.
How to use what you know now
Knowledge is gold.
Use it to work better with others. The more you know your team, the more effectively you can operate as a group. You will be able to give the right challenges to the right people. Morale can spike up as well as motivation and loyalty.
In a recent LinkedIn Poll, half of the respondents said they would not work for the same organization in two years. WOW! That is a lot.
Imagine that every second colleague will not be there in two years. That is a lot of attrition, knowledge loss, and rotation.
Does it make sense to still learn about the people you work with? Yes, it does.
First, they will feel more connected if they can trust other people. Ergo, they might stay longer :).
Second, their talents can help you or your team to drive:
Effective task distribution
Knowing people strengthens collaboration and communication. You should always aim to build a culture of trust and a space in which people can speak up.
Feedback is a classic example of whether your team works or not. You have a situation that makes you upset. You keep it for yourself until a few weeks later. Why did you wait so long? It can catch others by surprise.
Teams with high psychological safety can quickly clear the air. Time to exercise empathy. Come to work tomorrow and find out how your coworkers are doing.
Potential and talent are all over the place. They might only need understanding or a push in the right direction.
Always look for what you don’t know yet. Your coworkers are full of surprises.
Go for more:
➡️Got 9 min? Listen to Simon Sinek: How do we create an environment in which our people can work at their natural best?
➡️Use empathy to get into the getting-to-know-others flow: Check out the empathy deep dive.
➡️Are you stuck and demotivated? Join a 1h session about what is holding you back. It is on the 28th of Feb at 5 pm (CET).
See you next week! Ivona
leadink is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.