Career Success – Embracing Difference is the Key to Team Success

We are all individuals with unique personalities, capabilities and quirks. We each bring something different to the table. Experience, skills, talents, expectations. It might surprise you to learn that difference among team members is actually the beginning of synergy.

You can choose to see difference as a reason for not getting along or as an obstacle to moving toward team goals. Unsuccessful teams are certainly known to be prone to doing that. And, when you hold these views you should expect to spend more time attempting to mediate conflicts and resolve issues that are impeding communication and compromising productivity than dealing with tasks on your critical path.

Or, you can capitalize on difference so that, at the end of the day, the sum of the parts is greater than that of the whole. For successful teams cooperative, joint effort delivers an end result which independent action could not have achieved. There is little wasted time or energy required to manage expectations and massage egos.

Critical to working synergistically is ensuring each person on the team knows and has shared the answer to the following questions:

1. What she or he REQUIRES from others working on the team.

2. What she or he REQUESTS from others working on the team.

3. What she or he REFUSES TO TOLERATE from others working on the team.

The first step then is giving the team members the time to consider their response to these questions and permission to answer them honestly, without fear of reprisal.

The next step is creating an opportunity for the team members to share their personal requirements with one another. As the team leader, you are responsible for making sure this conversation takes place early on in the team relationship, preferably before any other requirements are discussed as a team.

Once this has taken place, you are ready to discharge other matters critical to the team’s business such as defining your mission, values, objectives, goals, tasks, timelines, resource requirements, constraints, success criteria, performance measures and status reporting metrics.

Synergy starts with communicating openly and honestly with one another, is reinforced by committing to and working toward common goals, and ends with sharing the glory of achievement despite adversity. At the start of the day it’s all about possibilities but, at the end of the day it’s only about your results.

Embracing difference is the key to success because the opposite of success isn’t failure, it’s conformity. And the choice is always yours.