Harvey Mackay: Power of 'we' makes successful team
BY HARVEY MACKAY United Feature Syndicate
Sunday, July 08, 2012
7/08/12 at 3:09 AM
A famous organist was performing a concert on a huge antique organ in front of a large audience. The bellows were hand-pumped by a boy seated behind a screen, unseen by any in the vast auditorium. The first part of the performance went very well, and at intermission the organist took his bows as the listeners applauded enthusiastically. During the break, the musician rested in a side passageway. The boy came out to join him.
"We played well, didn't we, sir?" the boy asked.
The arrogant musician glared at him. "What do you mean, 'We'?"
After the intermission, the organist returned to his seat to begin his next number, but as he pressed his fingers down on the keys, nothing happened. The bellows produced no wind, and not a sound came out.
Then the organist heard a whisper from behind the screen: "Say, mister, now do you know what 'We' means?"
I've written more than a dozen columns on the importance of teamwork. You might wonder what else there is to say. The simple answer: plenty! As long as projects require the efforts of more than one person, we'll keep talking about teamwork.
Michael Jordan, in his book "I Can't Accept Not Trying," writes: "There are plenty of teams in every sport that have great players and never win titles. Most of the time, those players aren't willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the team. The funny thing is, in the end, their unwillingness to sacrifice only makes individual goals more difficult to achieve. One thing I believe to the fullest is that if you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships."
Teamwork begins with the hiring process. Ask interview questions that uncover teamwork skills. Listen for stories or examples of "we" accomplishments.
When you're hiring people for a true team, ask these questions:
Why do you want to join this team? Find out what the candidate has done in the past, and what other work options he or she has considered.
What relevant teamwork experience do you have? Teamwork skills usually carry over across departments or industries. Probe to find out how the person has worked cooperatively with others in pursuit of group goals.
What's most important in working on a team? Teamwork means different things to different workers. Find out what teamwork skills the candidate values - communication, reaching consensus, cooperative decision-making - and discuss these in depth.
How have you handled conflicts on previous teams? No team functions without some disagreement. You'll find out a lot about your potential teammate by exploring his or her approach to, and experience with, conflict between team members or between the team and other parts of the organization.
Mackay's Moral: "We" is a little word that sends a big message.
Original Print Headline: Teamwork and the power of 'We'
Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." To send him a question or comment, go to tulsaworld.com/mackayfeedback.