I’ve always been taught to leave a place better than I found it. While this well-known saying most often refers to a physical location, it also can play out in relationships and team experiences.
Am I pulling my weight on the team? Is the team better because I’m a part of it? Am I willing to help others when they need extra assistance?
Do I make a positive difference in another person’s day? Or are my attitude, actions and apathy bringing others down?
Consider Person A who preceded me in an internship role when I was in my early 20s.
I was confused why she had not made any progress on our assigned project. I even wondered if she had actually worked at all when the supervisor told me after my second day on the job that I had accomplished more in two days than she had done in weeks.
A few years later I met Person B who was super speedy and ran circles around the rest of us on the team but 9 out of 10 things she did had to be redone. She was fast but she had poor results when it came to quality of work. She ended up costing the rest of us time having to go behind her to correct her mistakes.
And then there was Person C who spent more energy trying to avoid doing the job he was hired to do than it would have taken to just do the job. I’m still perplexed how he slept at night knowing the extra weight he caused us to carry because he wasn’t doing his part. And it wasn’t only during the time he was on the team but his dishonest and sloppy job affected various parts of the work for years to come.
You might have guessed that my patience wears a bit thin when it comes to purposeful dishonesty, sloppiness and slacking — in any situation.
But I’ve also learned that while some people know exactly what they are doing and purposefully mistreat the team or relationship, it is not the case with everyone. Sometimes there is a deeper concern at play. It might be a health issue or an emotional problem. The person could be overwhelmed with a personal crisis.
It could be as simple as lack of training, poor communication or negligence on the part of the team leader in establishing clear expectations. And sometimes people merely are promoted beyond their strengths — the Peter Principle, a concept made famous by the late Canadian researcher Laurence J. Peter who wrote a book about it in 1969.
If we discover that any of the above scenarios have occurred, then we make the place better than we found it immediately by owning up to what is happening.
Team leaders: lead
Team leaders, slow down long enough to know your team members and understand their struggles, their situations and their needs. Your job is to empower them to do their jobs. You are responsible to provide the training and resources they need. Create an environment that allows for achievement, confidence and security.
If you recruited them for your team, then protect them while also pushing them.
Team members: step up
Team members, take responsibility for yourselves. Be willing to ask for help, seek proper medical or psychological attention and figure out what you need to do to be a cooperative and contributing team member.
Everyone on the team can be part of the solution. Along with determining to be the best you God has created you to be, encourage and challenge those around you to do the same.
Why waste your time — and that of everyone around you — being part of something if you aren’t willing to contribute toward making it the best it can be?
—Jennifer Davis Rash