September 20, 2012
Team Victories are More Fun by Jerry Murray
My friend Dave is probably the best project manager that I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. He’s not just operationally strong, he’s also fearless and direct in his approach to communications. He’s willing to address almost anything and he receives direct feedback well if it’s for the benefit of the organization that he’s working with.
Several years ago, before we had the opportunity to work together, I met Dave for breakfast at Oregon Dairy Restaurant. When I walked into the restaurant, Dave was at the table drawing a picture of a boat on the flip side of his placemat. Of course I asked Dave, “What’s with the boat?” Dave’s explanation of the “celebration boat” struck me then and resounds with me even more strongly today. On the boat were several seats and in each seat was the name of someone. As he explained it, Dave was getting ready to embark on a business project and before he did, he wanted to create a picture of the team members that he would join with to celebrate that project’s success.
As I got to know him, I was impressed that an extremely high performer like Dave seemed to value team success even more than individual success. I remember thinking that Dave’s approach seemed thoughtful, but risky…. trusting that a team of individuals could combine their competencies and efforts for one goal that they would work toward together. To buy into Dave’s approach, I would have to disregard the theory that people in organizations are often most productive when they are individually motivated and rewarded. I’m very glad that I did.
Prioritizing and defining success in terms of team goals above individual goals yields MANY valuable byproducts. The list is extensive. A few of those benefits are:
- Team members expand their thinking to topics beyond their departments. Their expanded thinking grows the overall intellectual property and effectiveness of the team.
- Team members are more likely to create built-in accountability and rely less on accountability and disciplinary measures from their team leader.
- Team members become eager to discuss how to overcome obstacles and barriers toward their mutual goal, rather than avoiding those uncomfortable topics for fear of offending someone.
- Celebrating is more fun when an entire team is involved.
- Team member successes build unity in an organization, solidify core values and clarify definitions of organizational success.
On Sunday, my daughter Hannah and I watched the last few seconds tick off the clock at Lincoln Financial Field as the Philadelphia Eagles defeated our Baltimore Ravens. As we looked around the stadium at the capacity crowd celebrating wildly, I thought about how much fun it must have been to be an Eagles’ fan at that point. It was a picture of a shared celebration – the best way to celebrate a victory!