“If you want it, you’ve got to see it with a clear eyed view.” – Meek Mill
The truth is that it can be difficult to function in any collaborative environment. I have had quite a few times when I was caught in the team norming/storming process and it was no fun! Working with people whose backgrounds, life experiences, and perspective differs from yours can be an exercise in frustration. Fortunately, I have been there and have a few tips to help keep you anchored when you feel that your team collaboration process is veering off course! Here are my strategies for dealing with difficult people/circumstances taken from times when I was on the bumpy road of team storming and hoping that soon we would allow at norming. My hope is that by sharing them with you, you can learn to survive in circumstances that might drive the less motivated leader to give up.
- You do not have all of the answers. When I have been confronted with dynamics at work (or in groups) that I did not understand my first trip was to the public library (they do still exist) in search of answers. I recommend a few of these titles if you feel they apply: Working with You is Killing Me, Jerks at Work, Reframing Organizations, Give and Take, Originals, On Leadership, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and Disrupt Yourself to get you started. There are others on this topic as well. Read them and take notes (I did) so that when you get back to the office, you know how to proceed…with some grace.
- Too often we are so busy trying to get through to the other person that we forget to actually listen to them. This is a basic skill but one that takes intentionality to cultivate. I make it my goal to listen to everyone in my group or organization. Listening serves two functions, first it gives you insight into what the person speaking ultimately wants and second it gives you insight into where you may be able to find common ground. All of this is very valuable when looking to build a team. By understanding who you are working with and what they bring to the table, you better position yourself to serve as a (somewhat) impartial guide when things get stormy, and you can do so gracefully.
- FIND A MENTOR
- I don’t mean a pay-for-play life coach kind of mentor. I mean someone in the profession that is willing to meet with you occasionally and talk over any struggles you are having. It is ideal if this person is completely separate from your organization but in the same field. I have had a couple of good mentors in my time and a few GREAT ones. This does not have to be a person that is above you. It should be someone more experienced in the field than you are. When you find this person ask to meet with them and tell them what you want to meet about. They are sure to be vital resources as you continue your development. These are people who have survived difficult circumstances during the collaborative process and can help you do the same.
- DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
- I know! It can feel personal at times when you believe in your cause and are working to do your best. Honestly, you will not win over everyone. There may always be that coworker, students, subordinate that just does not get along with you. Take time to remind yourself that the way people treat you is a reflection of the way they treat themselves. You know who you are. Don’t let an ornery person make you doubt the value of the collaborative process or the capability of your team. You’ve got this. This mindset alone has you on the right track.
It can be rough out there leader. I am here to tell you to stay the course. The team will get through their storming and set sail on smooth collaborative seas. Remember, to lead is to constantly learn and while others may not tell you the truth, I always will. Team disagreements are normal, it is the resources you have to handle the disagreement that make all the difference. – Dr. Kia