Over the last few years I have been lucky to have had an awesome external trainer and mentor who has a strong background in the recruitment industry. One of the biggest learnings for me over this time has been focusing on respect within a team, rather than harmony.
Promoting Respect Amongst Opposing Personalities
When already-established teams grow quickly, introducing new temperaments to the mix can be a challenging and destabilising time. When people who have not worked together before (with clearly different personalities and styles that clash) how can a leader and manager, encourage them to recognise and respect each other’s strengths?
I have found encouraging team members to talk openly to me about how they felt about settling in with the team was a good place to start. This should be done in a one-on-one situation where they could talk freely without fear of other's judgement. This can be a little confronting at first but if the consistent message you send is “you don’t need to be best friends, but I do expect you to show the person respect”, I have found the message resonates quickly. If facilitated in a supportive environment, the team members will be able to discuss the other's strengths and weaknesses, listen to each other’s individual points of view and open their eyes to the other’s perspective.
It’s not a quick fix and you should expect (for the first couple of months say) a continued mis-match of personalities. People are different and unique and this mindfulness is important to establish across the team. Resist the urge to do something more drastic – it really is just a case of continuing with the message of understanding each other and letting time take its course. In my experience, constant repetition does work, and you'll see the respect building between team members. In one situation I managed in the past, two team members were both at the beginning of their careers, and both had the qualities necessary to be top performers. Their drive was similar, but their other strengths were quite different, and we worked through these differences. As they grew to recognise each other’s strengths they realised that together they would be stronger and a force to be reckoned with as colleagues. In the time that passed since I facilitated those “awareness conversations”, these team members have got on well (mostly!) and built a healthy respect for each other.
Recruitment and a Culture of Respect
From a client perspective, we have had some interesting situations of late, where employers have wanted a prospective candidate to meet with everyone in the team to decide whether they will be a good fit or not. In many cases, this has led to a “no” to the candidate. My question is: how important is it for everyone to initially like each other? If people don’t, and you turn down a candidate who has the right competencies and skills as a result, could you be missing out on someone who would have brought a lot of strengths that may be missing within the team?
If you adopt the ‘respect, not harmony’ mantra, I believe that you'll build a stronger team, minimise conflict and create a diverse environment where everybody respects each other – the team will be all the better because of it.
Do you have a similar experience to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts.