Recently I was facilitating an executive offsite, and during a break, I was talking with one of the participants about our ability to begin to overlook the flaws in others the more we work with them. It is kind of "well, that's just how he is," or "I've worked with him for a long time, and I've adjusted and learned how to deal with him."
The same has often been said about baseball star Manny Ramirez (pictured). We've all probably read about his recent alleged transgression involving a banned substance (not the subject of this post). Throughout his career, Manny has displayed some bizarre behaviors, all of which have been chalked up to "Manny being Manny."
Well, we do the same thing with people that we are on teams with. We overlook some of their negative behaviors because we have become used to them. It's just "Bob being Bob" or "Jane being Jane." This attitude makes life easier in the short term perhaps, but it is devastating to the team. Here's how to avoid this destructive mindset and the inevitable fallout:
1. Acknowledge it. The more we work around someone, the more comfortable and excusing we become about their behavior. Acknowledge this and vow to work to overcome it.
2. Establish that the team will not wait for the team leader or the boss to give feedback, but that feedback will flow in all directions.
3. Set aside time in team meetings to give and receive feedback on behaviors. It's amazing that if you ask teammates to list your strengths and weaknesses, they can accurately describe you. Go around the table and share each person's strong points and also what each can do to make the team healthier. Sounds intimidating, but it's easy once you get started. It's also easier if you use an outside facilitator. What's better is that your team will be stronger.
No more "Manny being Manny." Let's stop excusing and start working together.