Saturday, September 19, 2009



1. Did you ever have a job where the mere act of walking in would
make you feel that you could not breathe?

2. Do you ever stop to consider how many people in
your team could be feeling that way right now?

I bet all I have that question #1 made you go back in time & clench your teeth even at the brief resurfacing of those old feelings.

Remember the frustration?

That frustration that invariably leads to an increased employee issues, wasted time and sooner rather than later productivity loss? Well, just because it is not happening to you right now it does not mean that those feelings are not lingering in your workplace's corridors right as you seat reading this coffee in hand.

Funny thing is how much of this can be solved by the simple act of listening. Not the plain old listening, but the kind of intent listening that must take place during team meetings and any other gatherings, the kind of listening that does not involve the ears. The body language- listening, the results-listening, and the listening for one's team intrinsic mood.

If something does not sound quite right, to your ears, your eyes, or your intuition then action is a must. One of the key issues we find arise during this intent listening sessions is team construction and pairing.

The magic of pairing. So underrated. We insist that people must be able to work with anyone and be flexible at all times. True. Ideally that should work, and so should communism.

But the reality of it is that if you put two people that usually don't see eye to eye to work together for an extended period of time this won't translate into rewards of any kind. No matter what level of maturity, skill and professionalism is at work, if the heart and collaborative spirit is not there, you lose, and so will your company and your bottom line. History shows us that good partnering is essential to any great achievement, why ignore such tried and true wisdom?

While it is true that working with folks who have different points of view is likely to enrich us, if philosophies and personalities are diametrically opposite, the enriching part won't ever matter, because personal issues will inevitably blindfold & undermine more positive attributes.

The right pairings and team building won't take place overnight. This is an art with almost no science to it. So listen. Ask questions. Take the time to re-evaluate who sits next to whom, who seems unhappy to work with whom, what pairs/teams feed of each other's ideas and energy, and begin taking into account your team member's input when designing groups that will work side by side, departments, and shifts.

And why not go as far as to take more drastic measures and even consider having your current employees interview new hires that they'll work with? Studies show that companies that invest on that initial time to get to know potential new hires have a much lower turnaround than companies using more traditional interviewing/hiring methods.

Something to think about.

The most successful pairings occur naturally.
Don't get in the way of what works.

Photographs courtesy of GSN

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