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by Julia Paulus (referencing Judy Ryan and LifeWork Systems) SBM, March 2010

I don’t like teams.  Back in school, I hated classes when we had to do group projects.  My group was always the one where a couple of people did nothing and still got the grade.  The same thing happens in my office.  What is the key for building a successful team and getting everyone engaged and working toward a common goal?

Frustrated, Creve Coeur

I interviewed Judy Ryan, Owner of LifeWork Systems.  Here’s what she had to say:   Build Trust And Team In Your Communications Successful teams engage in healthy communications that build trust; a crucial component to teamwork. What most people don’t realize is this requires skills they may not have yet developed and an understanding of the progressive phases to reach authentic team.   First, healthy communication meets four criteria: It is honest.  It is caring.  It is useful; in other words, the person is receptive to hearing me.  And my words are intended to create harmony.   M. Scott Peck wrote in “A Different Drum,” his book on teamwork, that just as in any good marriage or friendship, after

  • Stage 1; putting your best foot forward, focusing only on where you agree, you play it safe by entering pseudo-community.  Eventually one must progress to
  • Stage 2; chaos where you begin to struggle and openly express all your feelings and opinions about differences in order to fix, convert, heal or change others.  When that doesn’t work, and if you are strong in character, you may enter
  • Stage 3; empty in which you loosen your attachments to your ideas, and getting your way and you begin to listen in order in order to understand others without trying to make anything happen. You can then reach
  • Stage 4; authentic community, where teamwork is about respect and trust, including openness and honesty and a high commitment to excellence

These stages challenge people, many who at this point choose to withdraw, grumble, gossip, blame or ignore.  Conversely, when these stages are consciously navigated, when communications are weighed by the four criteria, and when an intention is adopted to assist every person in becoming wildly successful, accountable, caring teamwork is the natural and enjoyable outcome.  Best of luck!   Judy Ryan (judy@LifeworkSystems.com), human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Her mission is to help people create lives they love. She can be reached at 314-239-4727.

As published in St. Louis Small Business Monthly, March 2010