When riding on the subway this week, I noticed that the guy beside me had placed his bag on the seat between us. How rude to take an extra seat.
I scanned the subway car and saw other people doing the same thing. There were also people who held their bags on their laps not imposing on prime sitting real estate.
Why were some people taking extra space and others not? Were some rude and others considerate, or were some just unaware of the impact of their actions?
It is easy to judge people you don’t know. This is what happens when new teams form during change. New relationships are formed between people who have different expectations and do things differently. Some team members attribute these differences as premeditated disparities while others see them as natural diversity.
The first approach assumes negative intent while the second assumes neutrality. One interpretation leads to division and entrenchment while the other leads to discussion and inquiry.
Here are some tips to avoid misunderstandings and negative perceptions:
- Immediately schedule a meeting for people to connect
- Ask people to share their backgrounds including roles, accomplishments and aspirations—people forget
- Acknowledge that it is normal for people to do things differently given their different leaders and experiences
- Align people around a common purpose or goal
- Do something social. New and fun experiences leads to shared memories and fresh bonds
- Ask team members to create rules of engagement based on their values and definitions of high performing teams
- Insist on team members who are located in the same city to sit together
- Use video conference technology to engage remote team members—conference calls are not good enough
- Celebrate early successes as team accomplishments
- Hold frequent team meetings to align on goals, share information and manage any challenges
Change management is about helping people move from where they are to where they need to be with minimal disruption. Managing early team dynamics is essential for minimizing misunderstandings and tensions that get in the way of this transition and better performance.
The guy beside me on the subway stood up to give his seat to a senior citizen who got on our car. Maybe he wasn’t so rude after all.