The Skinny on Improving Teamwork: Five Lessons for Every Business
by Marlene Chism
Who would you be if you weren't in charge, and if you weren't in control? Do you have the self-esteem it takes to risk looking foolish? Are you willing to "put it out there" in a big way and trust your teammates to catch you if you fall?
What would happen if you had to find a way to agree with the present moment? Would you have the courage to allow the flow and stop resisting "what is?" Are you willing to accept or even agree with others even when you don't fully understand their point of view?
Depending upon your role in your company, owner, president, employee, entrepreneur, you'll have a standard "seminar answer." If you're on the top rung of the ladder you'll say something like "I've been to Covey's Seven Habits Training." If you are on the middle rung you'll say something like, "I teach this stuff and have developed the material." Or if you're on the bottom rung you'll say you've been through the "ropes course" at the company retreat.
Although these courses and methods are valuable, if you want to know the skinny on these answers to these questions, take the eight-week course at the Skinny Improv. The Skinny Improv is a comedy troop in Springfield Missouri. The troop performs every Friday and Saturday night, and offers lessons to anyone who wants to learn the same skills to use in business or in life. If you have an improve troop in your area it is worth the personal investment. You'll learn a lot about team building and even more about yourself. Here are some of the lessons I've learned after six weeks of investing in myself for the training.
Lesson One: It's not about you. Although you are on the team, it's never really about you. It's about making everyone else look good. When you do your part and your intention is to be there for the other team members, then everyone is a star. It's not your job to get the limelight, to get the last word or deliver the funniest line. It's your job to make everyone else look good. When you focus on yourself, you do so at the expense of the team. In the business world being competent in lesson one will work magic for the team and work miracles for customer service.
Lesson Two: Go with the flow. In Improv, you never know what the other person will do, so it's easy to get thrown off guard. When you are caught off guard, the natural response is to resist instead of looking for agreement. When you are used to being in control it's difficult to let go. If you are in a position of power you are used to planning and facilitating but you forget what it's like to participate. It's easy to ask others to step up but when you go with the flow you become a participant instead of the controller. So often in the business world we resist and stress over the current situations instead of looking for opportunities to go with the flow.
Lesson Three: Trust is paramount. In order to have a great team you must trust that your team members are there for you. They will rescue you when you stumble, they will catch you when you fall. After all, they also believe in the philosophy that it's not about them, but it is about making you look good. What goes around comes around. The end result is a great customer experience and in Improv the audience is the customer. In the business world your end result is to satisfy the customer so that you can keep them. You do this by making sure the team supports each other so that they can deliver the end result.
Lesson Four: Judgment blocks success. It's impossible to be creative in the midst of criticism. It doesn't matter if the criticism is directed toward someone else or yourself, judgment blocks the flow of energy. It takes discipline and practice to learn how to suspend the gremlins in your head that tell you how stupid you look and it takes a conscious positive intention to allow others the same courtesy.
Lesson Five: Growth takes courage. In order to learn something new we have to be willing to leave our comfort zone momentarily and that takes the courage to risk. When you believe that everyone on your team has your best interests at heart, and that you will not be judged your capacity for courage is maximized. You can only risk when you have trust, when you have learned to go with the flow, you let go of judgment, and when you've been on the giving and receiving end of the philosophy that "it isn't about you."
Marlene Chism works with companies that want to stop the drama so that teamwork and productivity can thrive. To get free resources to help you increase productivity and build work relationships go to www.stopyourdrama.com or call 1. 888.434.9085 for more information.