I love when people say they’re struggling with their team. NO, not because I’m a nasty person who likes to see people suffer! To me, if you’re struggling, it means two things: 1) you are trying to make your team work, which is incredibly important; and 2) you aren’t giving up at the first sign that it might be tough.
Teams are really hard. To be an effective team member, you need great technical skills, just to get you in the door. Once you’re in, you are expected to have strong interpersonal skills. You’ll need them because teams require you to navigate multiple relationships at the same time—often with people who require diametrically opposed environments to be at their best. You need to bring all of this even under tremendous stress, with tight deadlines and constrained resources. Big ask.
But all of that takes the team completely out of the context of your life, which you can’t do. You have to bring your full value, navigate complex relationships while managing your own mood and turning off the lingering effects of the strains from home. You had a fight with your spouse last night, your kid threw a fit when you asked him to do his homework, you’re not sure where the money will come from to fix the broken car.
So if you have moments, hours, or weeks where you’re struggling to be an effective member of your team, cut yourself some slack. Take it as a sign that you’re trying to make your team work and that you’ve got the courage to keep caring, to keep trying, and to keep working at teamwork. If you see a teammate struggling, cut them some slack too.
I have a soft spot for all the people who are struggling. They are a welcome change from all the people I see who are settling, stagnating, or sniping.
In my next post; how to move through the struggle.