2011  December 30

Your Team’s Plus-One

With the year winding down, I’m reminded of how forgetful I can be. But luckily we are all connected and we all help us to remember everything, together. So I was delighted to just now receive a message from the uniquely gifted Mukara Meredith. The subject line was “Re: The Tenth Person” – taken from an email interchange I had with her loooong ago.

Mukara pointed out, to me, how often times within the workings of a team, the leader is often fixated on the many individual and group relationships/dynamics within the membership. Her point was that we so often look for “teamwork” and yet we don’t give it a role on the team itself. In other words, we don’t often enough write the job description for the “invisible” member of the team, and then hold him/her/it accountable for the performance of the overall team. So as a practical example, for a team of nine you want to call out the “tenth” member of the team as someone/something that needs a performance review alongside everyone else as representing the id of the team’s teamness.

As a concept, this might seem a bit uncomfortably ethereal – because it is. And yet it helps to make the intangible quality of “teamwork” entirely tangible, and accountable with the human resources instruments that we are already employ. Thanks for reminding me of the extra, invaluable member of every team, Mukara! -JM

The accountability for a team to be a team does not only sit with the leader.

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