It’s already hard to have a great team when things are going well. It’s nearly impossible when outside stresses and strains put the team under pressure. A sliding economy, tanking results, or a surging competitor can mean ugliness for your team. These harrowing times are the defining moments of teams—when the going gets tough, great teams turn to one another while most teams turn on one another.
What’s the difference?
When the situation looks dire for your team, which is more likely? Do you turn on each other or do you turn to each other?
Turning on: Fighting over scarce resources and protecting whatever is “mine.”
Turning to: Candid conversations and selfless decisions about the optimal use of resources for the team as a whole.
Turning on: Back room gossip and nasty remarks about the under-performing member of your team.
Turning to: Genuine empathy and some coaching for teammates who are struggling.
Turning on: Excluding key people from conversations or bringing them in only after the fact.
Turning to: Huddling the team to plan a strategy and an approach to stem the bleeding and reverse the damage.
Turning on: Endless drama and long, tense meetings (and meetings after the meetings).
Turning to: Focused, action-oriented conversations and frequent follow-up and course correction.
You can’t afford to turn on your teammates just when they need you the most. Sure it’s stressful, but the solution is much more likely to come from working together than from hallucinating that the enemy is within. Keep the competition on the outside and you’ll all get through the tough times together.
For a little fun reading on sticking together in times of adversity, check out Wikipedia on Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and team declaring independence from Britain. Your team probably isn’t committing high treason, but Franklin’s words should still resonate. “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”