Team Players and Other People

The concept of team work receives considerable attention in many types of situations, from the workplace, to education, to sports. At Magnus, David and I wholeheartedly endorse team work among our employees and including ourselves. Although, in sports terms, I am the “team captain” at Magnus, I cannot perform my job absent help from other team members. This being said, I am always happy to help others when my schedule permits. Does the trash need to be emptied and taken to the outside bin? Do we have case documents that need to be shredded? Does the floor need to be vacuumed? These are tasks that are not, technically speaking, in my job description, however, I perform them, and many others, with regularity. We once had a colleague of mine work with us on several cases. Her tenure at Magnus was short lived because she was not a team player. An important part of every project is the debriefing session that is conducted after the research day. This debriefing session allows us to discuss, in an open forum, what went wrong and how we can avoid similar mistakes in the future. My colleague was a college professor who was horrified that she was being asked to participate in a debriefing session with people who did not have a Ph. D. In her world of academia, she functioned on an individual basis, controlling her class schedule and to some extent, the lives of her students, such that she believed our team approach was “beneath her.” Team work does not begin and end in the workplace. Some people are team players in their personal lives while others prefer to march to their own drummer without much regard for the rest of us. David and I host countless guests and we often remark what a pleasure it is when they offer to cook us a meal, clean up after themselves, keep their room tidy, and my personal favorite, provide their own beach or pool towels. Other guests, in contrast, sit back and do nothing to extend a helping hand, requiring extra work for us that limits our ability to enjoy their company. Just as in sports, with some involving a team working together to achieve a common goal and others that measure success on an individual basis, the game of life often breaks down into two types of people, those who are oriented toward co-existing with others and those who are more self centered. Are you a team player?

Work teams take many forms.  In our world, I’ve long thought that our work most closely resembles a relay race team in the sports world.  With what we do, we have a baton starting at the intake of each new case.  That baton moves back and forth among team members throughout the duration of our engagement.  I handle the intake, then the proposal, I pass the baton to have someone create the file, handle incoming documents, and make facility arrangements, Melissa reviews documents and writes a survey, and so it goes.  These tasks overlap and move back and forth rapidly.  “Good employees” have understood this and became valuable team members.  “Bad employees,” have not understood this concept.  Some have focused on saying “it’s not my job,” which is a perspective that rarely works well for anyone.  One memorable “bad employee” could not get past understanding that teams have captains and co-captains.  She thought teamwork meant everyone was equal.  It should have been obvious that this was not the case; being a business owner, and possessing considerably more education than a low level worker should have made the picture clear.  These things did not go well for her during  her brief tenure with Magnus.  The rules of the game have changed over time and the nature of the baton passes has been modified accordingly.  But, in our world, different tasks are handled by different people and in a consistent sequence from the starting block to the finish line.  We work hard to make sure no one drops the baton along the way!

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