Is Your Team a Helping Team?

Harvard professor J. Richard Hackman studied teams and said the strongest predictor in team effectiveness is based on the helpfulness team members display toward each other.

Not talent. Not skill. Help.

I was reflecting upon that insight and thinking about the culture of a team that helps each other.

  1. Members are willing to be vulnerable. It takes a certain vulnerability to say to a teammate, “I am having trouble over here, can you help me?” It is also risky business to say to someone, “You look like you could use a hand. Can I help?”
  2. Members are willing to be unselfish. Helping takes time. If the mindset is, “I’ll take care of mine and she can take care of hers,” the team will be weaker. The best teams work hard to raise the level of competence and performance in all phases of the game.
  3. Members will be humble. We are taught to have answers, not ask questions. We are taught to seek a better grade than the one sitting next to us. But, it doesn’t take long to learn that when you can put competition aside and work jointly on issues, better ideas and solutions arise. Humility says that there are probably better ideas than mine most of the time, and I am going to find out what those ideas are.
  4. Members are generous. If you trust your teammates, you will share freely with your teammates. You put aside self interest. You share what you know. You give your time, talent and treasure.

I was riding along with a colleague yesterday and asked him whether working for our company was as good as he thought it would be. I was pleased when he said: “Better.” He continued: “I can’t believe how much I enjoy the people I get to work with every day. They help. They are willing to do anything you ask.”

We have hundreds of teams in our organization. If your team isn’t a helping team, can I ask you to lead where you stand? Lend a helping hand. Make a difference by seeking the best idea. Put your interests aside for the sake of your team. It will make us a “better” team. It will also add to your joy at work.