Blended talents

Photo courtesy of erin m (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of erin m (Creative Commons)

There’s something special about duets – whether two singers, two different instruments or even two hands on the piano. The distinctive sound that each brings to the music, as well as the blend of the two voices or instruments makes for a special listening experience.

I like to approach teams that way too, no matter whether it’s for work, a short-term project, or a long-term venture. It’s important that each party maintain their own voice and strengths, and yet also blend their talents together to accomplish things neither could on their own for the good of the project.

I have been on teams where each person was more concerned with making sure their own agenda was met – their own voice heard distinctly – and the conflict tore the team apart. The issues that developed caused division and delay, producing so much frustration that the only way to improve the situation was to reassign the teams.

My work team recently had a staff retreat in which we participated in team-building activities that seemed on the surface to just be simple games. But as we worked through the challenges, we came to realize how much better we were communicating, leaning on each other and depending on each other to accomplish the goals set before us.

In one of the games, there were a series of colored rings on the floor, and one by one, we had to step through them in a certain order. If the first person got the next step wrong, they went to the back of the line, and then the next person made another choice.

What we realized quickly was how important it was for us to each follow closely behind so that as a team, we got through all the rings in the same order instead of each having to remember what color was next. It was also important to talk to each other to help the first in line remember what had been tested already so we didn’t repeat a wrong ring.

We blended our talents in that game, making us successful. Now that we’re back in the office, I have already seen us using those same skills to improve some of our communications and challenges.

We are collaborating better, and doing a little more brainstorming for solutions instead of acting independently. We each still bring our own strengths to the conversations, but the process of blending our knowledge and experience is creating more practical results.

How can you blend the talents of your team to improve the results?