By: Sandy Swanson
I was at my 11-year-old niece’s volleyball tournament a few weeks ago. One of the things I noticed while watching her and her teammates play – they were too quiet. I do not know a lot about the game of volleyball, but one thing I do know is you are supposed to communicate when a ball comes your way. There were occasions when no one ran for the ball, or times when two or three girls went after the same ball, but then it fell to the ground. Both scenarios created negative outcomes for the team.
I asked my sister why they did not talk to one another. She said, “At that age, they are worried about what they are doing and how they can avoid making a mistake. They haven’t yet learned the benefits of communicating with each other.”
Thinking about this, I wondered how different we are as adults. At times, we sometimes focus on what we are doing well or poorly, and we forget to work or communicate as a team with our colleagues. This can be particularly true when faced with a new or unfamiliar situation or in situations of great stress.
I thought about my own team and remember times when we were working together to solve a client problem or create a work solution. I also remember other times when we focus on ourselves rather than each other, or when we forget to ask for help. My niece was a good reminder for me – things go much more smoothly when we give a shout out.
Next time, think if these three tips to help you remember the value of communication at work:
- Stay on the ball. It sounds simple enough, but when working on teams we all too often think that the other person will take charge. Sometimes when you are working toward the same goal, you miss critical steps along the way. Solve this dilemma by ensuring your teammate hears you say, “I got it!” Know where the ball is at all times to make sure it is covered. If the ball seems out of reach, do not be afraid to ask for “help” when you need it.
- Cheering is equally important. Even if you are not in the game, you are still part of the team. Help your teammates by cheering them on. The smallest nudge of “you can do it” goes a long way.
- Do not forget praise. When someone does a good job, give him or her praise. Alternatively, let your teammates know if they disappoint you. Offer tips or advice. In sports, we often hear advice as much as we hear praise, such as, “good try, but maybe try this next time…” The same goes with your team at work. At any point, make sure you offer advice. It helps make for a better product or in the case of my niece’s volleyball game, a big win.
©OrangeBoy, Inc. 2012