We Work With People, Not Positions

Showing consideration to colleagues will build team resilience. Here are some tips on how to value the people you work with.

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Consideration, showing appreciation for and taking care of other people, is one of the 7Cs of team resilience and is key to building a team that responds to change and disruption with flexibility and innovation. One common barrier to fostering consideration in the workplace is that people treat each other as tools or resources, not as human beings. Too often, office culture values roles and positions, not people. This tendency to focus on titles, with people becoming nameless and faceless, undermines the resilience of our teams and too often leads to mission failure.

Recognizing and overcoming this tendency to overlook the human factor will strengthen work teams and make it easier to achieve mission goals. Here are some tips on how you can promote team resilience by recognizing your colleagues as human beings:

Get to know each other

Ask people about themselves, their families, their personal goals, hobbies, and dreams. If you are a supervisor, use your first meeting with a new employee to learn about them. Resist the temptation to jump into mission goals, saving that conversation for a later meeting. Invite colleagues to lunch or for coffee and talk about yourselves rather than work issues. Sometimes your teammates may not want to talk about themselves, but most people appreciate being asked.

Step back

It is easy to focus only on work when there is a never-ending flow of demands. Take five minutes and step back. Ask yourself what would be the worst outcome if this task does not get done right away. Think about the people doing that project. What do they need? Are they getting enough support?

Use names, not titles

When referring to colleagues, use their names and resist the temptation to use titles or designations. Government employees often fall into this trap since we are trained to use acronyms and it is easier to use titles. This tendency to refer to colleagues only by title dehumanizes the person in the position. For example, instead of saying “the secretary is late today”, say “George is late today”.

Develop empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Put yourself in the shoes of colleagues and make an effort to see issues from their viewpoints.

Stop making assumptions

Many of us assume we know what colleagues are thinking, what they want, and how they are reacting. Instead of making assumptions, ask questions. Find out from them what they are thinking and feeling.

Build on people’s strengths

Help people understand where and how they contribute most effectively given the skills and abilities they have. If people need to learn new skills or overcome weaknesses, focus on how they can grow and improve rather than where they are deficient.

Deal with poor performance and misconduct

Addressing poor performance and misconduct is one of the hardest things a manager can do. Managers are often reluctant to have honest and difficult conversations with employees. They risk having complaints filed against them or creating conflict. By taking on this challenge, managers communicate to the rest of the team that the hard work is worth the effort and risk to improve the working conditions for the rest of the group.

How do you create a culture that values people, not positions?

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