Teamwork starts with common bonds

First, I will apologize to those living in northern climates who have been buried in a mountain of snow this winter.  Why apologize? Because this is a story about riding through town in a convertible.  With the top down.  In February. (I live in Florida, in case you didn’t know).

Anyway, a about a month ago, while driving around with the top down, I noticed another car approaching me with its top down.  As it so happened, it was also a VW Beetle of about the same year as mine.  Only difference was the color.

Not my Beetle, but you get the idea.

Not my Beetle, but you get the idea.

As we got closer, an instinct hit both of us at the same time.

We waved.

Did we know each other?  No.  Are Beetle drivers just overly friendly?  Perhaps.

I think we were struck with the instinct to greet each other because we were both driving similar cars and had both chosen to ride with the top down. We didn’t know each other (and I would not recognize the driver again if seeing them outside of their car), but we had something in common.  In a split second, we bonded over top-down, open-road, VW Beetle-ness. It was a special moment.

Ever have trouble getting your employees or management team to work together?  To see eye to eye, to give the benefit-of-the-doubt, to embrace an idea as an idea, not a threat to their employment?

What do they have in common?  Sure, they may work for the same company, wear the same uniform, even have the same boss.  But are those things that really BOND people together?

In the case above, the top-down Beetle said something about us.  It was a reflection of who we are, the choices we make and what’s important to us.  Simply putting on a uniform doesn’t automatically instill pride.  What does the uniform (and the company it represents) stand for?  Does the employee buy into that?  If not, matching shirts will not be enough to bind people together.

Think of any enthusiast group, whether is the American Coaster Enthusiasts, the Honda Element Owners Club or The Polar Bear Club, the love of the product, sport or ideal comes first.  The wardrobe comes second.

While there are MANY different programs and exercises out there to help build your team, here are a few points to keep in mind.

  • Hiring matters – if the above story is any lesson, finding common bonds is as much (if not more) about bringing people together with the same ideals as it is about finding people who can do a certain job.
  • Commonality matters – even if you’ve hired people with similar outlooks and ideals, they still have to get to know what they have in common as individuals.  This only happens by working together and communicating.  There is no such thing as an automatic team.
  • Firing matters – if you find someone that isn’t supportive of the culture or can’t cut the mustard, it’s okay to let them pursue other opportunities (in other words, set them free). If you have done your due diligence to get them up to speed and on board, and they still provide a negative influence, cut your losses. Don’t keep people on the team who are detrimental to the team.  Your committed employees will thank you.

What opportunities have you created for your employees to find out what they have in common with each other?  What have you found that works really well?

Thanks for having something in common with me!


About the author:  If you are like Matt, you are passionate about helping others achieve their maximum potential.  Is it always easy?  No.  But that’s why there are people like Matt.  He shares your passion, and has the skill to help you help others.