Sometimes, I need to take a break from my regular routine. I’ve spent the last six days in Central Florida with my mom, a snowbird from Indiana. It was a nice break from my daily work-from-home-alone routine, yet I still found time to learn a few lessons during my vacation.
My mom and I have very different daily routines. I typically get up early, take a walk, eat breakfast, then move to my home office to work. Sometime after 5 p.m., I go downstairs, make dinner, read a book, or watch TV (usually with a cat on my lap). My introverted self needs a lot of downtime to recharge.
Mom is 83 and retired. Her routine consists of having breakfast with friends 7 days a week and then napping!
She goes golfing and bowling with friends twice a week, usually followed by lunch at a nearby cafe – and a nap. I love seeing my mom enjoying her life.
So I traveled to Florida to get a taste of her retirement lifestyle. We joined her friends for a pontoon boat ride around Lake Griffin, played many board games, and sampled seafood at various waterfront restaurants near her over-55 community.
Because I’m NOT yet retired, even though I was very focused on enjoying my downtime, I found myself observing various examples of teamwork (or lack thereof) that I come across throughout the week.
What Does Teamwork Mean To You?
Before sharing some examples from my week, I should explain my thoughts on “teamwork.”
While there are many definitions of teamwork, I like Patrick Lencioni’s model of a cohesive team. Patrick Lencioni is a well-known author and management consultant who has written extensively on teamwork and organizational health. According to Lencioni, a cohesive team is a group of individuals who…
- Trust each other: Team members are comfortable being vulnerable with one another, admit mistakes, and offer and receive constructive feedback.
- Engage in healthy conflict: Team members engage in productive and constructive conflict, focus on the issues, and positively resolve them.
- Commit to decisions: Once a decision is made, team members commit to it fully.
- Hold each other accountable: Team members are willing to hold themselves and each other accountable for meeting their commitments and achieving their goals.
- Focus on collective results: Team members put the team’s needs ahead of their own and work together to achieve collective success.
I agree with Lencioni that a team that embodies these five characteristics is much more likely to be successful and achieve its goals than a team that lacks cohesion and trust. He outlines these ideas in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.”
Great Examples From Airlines
When I visit my mom in Florida, I fly on Allegiant Air. It is a small airline that typically offers low fees and excellent service. I fly from Hagerstown, Maryland – a small regional airport where Allegiant is the only airline – to Sanford, FL, a regional airport near Orlando.
I love the personal attention and casual vibe that Allegiant offers. When I fly Allegiant, I feel confident that the staff enjoys working together. They exude a positive attitude and provide an energetic atmosphere from the moment you walk in the terminal doors until you exit the jetway at your destination.
They demonstrate their commitment to teamwork on their About page by stating: “We’re looking for fun, energetic, innovative people to join our team.”
By clearly saying that they want energy and innovation in their team members, they are setting expectations right upfront about who will fit in with their team. The result is a fun and comfortable flight. I have always enjoyed flying with Allegiant.
Inconsistent Teamwork In Restaurants
My mom enjoys eating out, so I had many opportunities to see how various restaurant staff worked together (or didn’t). We went to the same breakfast restaurant on several occasions. My mom and her friends are regulars, so they know the owners and servers reasonably well.
On our first visit of the week, the server who arrived to take our order (we’ll call her Margie) was clearly upset with two other servers because neither of them showed up for the 7 a.m. shift. Apparently, the other two servers decided to swap shifts and got confused about who was to be there, so neither of them showed up for the 7 a.m. shift. Margie, our server, was one of those committed people who could do ALL the jobs (i.e., cook, host, server, cashier, etc.) and could be relied on to fill in the gaps. So, she stepped in to be the server until someone else showed up.
This example clearly showed a need for more team cohesion and trust. Our server was frustrated with the other two servers’ lack of communication and commitment. The result was that Margie complained about them – to her customers. I’m sure others noticed this negative vibe in the restaurant. Even though the food was good and Margie made sure to meet our needs, I certainly didn’t walk away with a great feeling about the restaurant’s service because of all the negativity that she communicated.
A better example of teamwork was our afternoon at the Kahlua Beach Bar. It was a beautiful day along Lake Harris in Tavares, FL, so we decided to go for burgers, listen to music and watch the boats and float planes come and go. My mom found a picnic table in the shade, just beyond the roped border of the restaurant seating area. I ordered food from one of the bartenders, who cheerily asked my first name. He said our food would take 20-40 minutes and asked where we were seated. When I pointed out the picnic table beyond the bar’s borders, he explained I would have to check back with him because he wouldn’t be able to leave the bar to bring us our food unless he could see me.
So I joined my mom under the shade of the tree, and 18 minutes later, I heard my name called. I turned around and it was Jack, the bartender, and one of the other servers with our food! He DID find me, and he brought our food! That was a pleasant surprise because it was pretty crowded!
It was clear from watching the bartending staff that they worked as a team. They helped each other, shared the tips, and seemed to enjoy the day. And they infused others near the bar with their positive energy.
What Were The Results?
We clearly had better experiences when teams were working better together.
In last month’s blog post, I explored the difference between being a team member and a teammate.
Watching the airline and restaurant teams this week, I noticed many examples of good and not-so-good teamwork.
When people worked hard at being “teammates” who supported each other and were proactive in making sure that customers had positive experiences, we had great experiences. They focused on doing the right things in the right way at the right time. And as a result, I walked away with good stories and positive experiences to share.
On a scale of 1 (NOT cohesive) to 10 (VERY cohesive), how would you rate the cohesiveness of your team? Do they trust each other? Can they handle conflict and disagreements in a healthy way? Are they able to hold themselves and each other accountable for meeting commitments? How would your team’s clients and customers describe their experiences when engaging with your team?
Until next time….
P.S. For more ideas and tips to improve the way your team works together, subscribe to my monthly newsletter.