The way to a team’s success is through its stomach

The way to a team’s success is through its stomach Solo Expenses shows how food and drink can be just what’s needed to unlock the inner team player hiding inside all of us, and reveal the 14 personality traits of a super team player.

It’s an old chestnut that there’s no ‘I’ in team, but that if you look carefully, you can see me. Look more closely still, and you can even see ‘tea’ and ‘eat’. And those are interesting words for anyone wanting to create a successful team, or be a supportive member of one. In the UK at least, tea is often what people turn to as a first step to solving a problem. And gathering around to share food is a global ‘given’; it’s when people can relax and feel good about each other’s company. Perhaps it’s not so odd that “put the kettle on, and let’s talk about it…” can be a first step to problem resolution.

But how does that help with working in teams in the real world? Quite simply, it helps people to bond, and removes the barriers that might otherwise exist to prevent them contributing as best they might. And with the barriers removed, they can feel more at ease, and better able to contribute. Here are 14 important things for team players to do:

1. Communicate. Communication isn’t talking. We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak. Avoid statements, and ask questions. That gets communication going.

2. Listen actively. Don’t try to pick holes in what another team member has to say. Think before you reply or comment. Perhaps it’s a good idea, and you can help express it better for the benefit of the whole team.

3. Be open. Teams work best when everyone’s included. Avoid small cliques at all costs; they have the power to disengage team members, and drive teams onto the rocks of dissent and apathy.

4. Don’t be precious. If someone has a better idea than you, accept it and discard your own. There’s no ‘you’ in team either.

5. Share. A good idea doesn’t care who has it, so long as it’s brought into the open for the benefit of the team objective.

6. Volunteer. If someone’s struggling, help them out. It might be you that needs help next.

7. Be flexible. New ideas happen all the time. If they didn’t, we’d be living in caves and hunting with sticks. Look for the possibilities in new thinking, and don’t be frightened of new stuff.

8. Be committed. Aim to be on your best game all the time. Sure, we all have off days now and again, with external pressures bearing down on us, but that’s no reason to bring down the rest of the team.

9. Act now. Just because the team’s not meeting at the moment is no reason for you not to make a contribution. Push on with actions you’ve been given.

10. Don’t be shy. You won’t know how good (or bad) your idea is unless you share it with the group. It might be just what’s needed.

11. Be respectful. Everyone has a right to be heard.

12. Be reliable. If you’ve been given a task, make sure it’s done, even if you have to ask for help. Turning up at the next meeting and saying ‘I’ve been too busy’ is just lame, and an insult to the other busy people who’ve accomplished their allotted tasks.

13. Get involved. No team needs people who are just along for the ride. You’ve got talents that are useful to the team, or you wouldn’t be part of it. Apply them to the best of your ability.

14. Laugh. Why not? People who laugh can get stuff done just as well as people who are serious, but they have more fun doing it. We even know one guy whose MD called in every morning with just one instruction: “Tell me a joke.” By all accounts he was great to work for.

The way to a team’s success is through its stomach-1So what’s on your menu? Now you know what team players need to do, how will you use food to get them to behave that way? Pick menu items that others will welcome, and make it a surprise. It doesn’t have to be complicated. The result will be closer bonding, and re-engagment with the job in hand. But what? Make it fit the circumstances. Session dragging on? Send out for pizza. French language course? Get croissants. Birthday? Cake, naturally. Hot day? Arrange for some cold drinks. Who would have thought that a few bottles of chilled water would be enough lubricant to make a team run more smoothly?