There is no big shot in our team!

“THERE IS NO BIG SHOT IN OUR TEAM!”, a phrase very commonly heard at any workplace. Doesn’t this statement seem bit contradictory? We refer to a TEAM and yet look for ONE big shot. Where is the team work, where is the leveraging of team members’ strengths as a whole? Is the vast ocean made of a single big drop of water? What makes us ignore or not capitalize on the strengths of all the team members? Is it too much of focus on their weaknesses or our being control freaks that leads us to focus mainly on the tasks to be delivered and not exceeding the delivery expectations?

I couldn’t help but ponder more on this after reading the following excerpt from “WINGS OF FIRE”  [chapter 13] – the autobiography of India’s ex-president, Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam:

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The young engineers, 280 to be precise, changed the dynamics of DRDL*. It was a valuable experience for all of us. We were now in a position to develop, through these young teams, a re-entry technology and structure, a millimetric wave radar, a phased array radar, rocket systems and other such equipment. When we first assigned these tasks to the young scientists, they did not fully grasp the importance of their work. Once they did, they felt uneasy under the burden of the tremendous faith placed in them. I still remember one young man telling me, “There is no big shot in our team, how will we be able to break through?” I told  him, “A big shot is a little shot who keeps on shooting, so keep trying.” It was astonishing to see how in the young scientific environment, negative attitudes changed to positive and things that were previously thought impractical began happening. Many older scientists were rejuvenated simply by being part of a young team. It has been my personal experience that the true flavour, the real fun, the continuous excitement of work lies in the process of doing it rather than in having it over and done with. To return to the four basic factors that I am convinced with are involved in successful outcomes: goal-setting, positive thinking, visualizing and believing.

*DRDL – Defence Research and Development Laboratory, Hyderabad

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Some key learnings that I could derive from this excerpt from a man who had the vision and could empower India’s youth to bring about a revolution:

* A small task isn’t really small when seen from a bigger perspective.

* Every effort in the right direction matters, even if it is miniscule.

* Never underestimate the strength of your team, capitalize on each member’s strength. One plus one does make eleven!

* Don’t just show your team that you’ve faith in them but also inspire and empower them to deliver.

* Don’t give up but believe in yourself and just do it.

* A right vision and a strong inspiration is very important to make any team shine.

* Bring about a synergy by combining the experience of the old with the skills of the young.

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Chak De! – Use right experience at the right moment and place!

CHAK DE, the Bollywood flick imparted great lessons. The final hockey match made it very clear that using the right experience at the right moment can turn a losing game to a marvelous victory.

Here is a case in point, wherein proper experience mapping helped retain a highly experienced team member, who had already submitted his resignation letter.

The unexpected resignation letter from the senior most team member “John” [*name changed] left the management worried about the ongoing projects. John had good knowledge about these projects and there was no other team member with his level of experience. After hours of discussion with him, it was felt that John was adamant on leaving the organization. Thus, his resignation was accepted.

The worries of losing the good clients because of this led management to dig deeply into the matter and see what could be done to retain him. The time for this was very short, equivalent to notice period for John.After acceptance of the resignation letter, John didn’t speak much about his concerns so all the effort was to be done by the management.

Everything seemed to be right until a question from one of the managers took everyone to an entirely new tangent of thought process.

The question was “Was John’s experience being capitalized on? Did he feel that he was doing some value add to the team/project/himself and the organization“?

John had more than 5 years of experience.  However, he was given a role wherein his experience and existing knowledge couldn’t be used at all. He seemed to have no scope for further learning or doing a value add to the project/organization. The situation became very clear. After a deeper analysis, it was felt that although there was a good mix of people in the team, the job and skill set/experience mapping was not done properly. Wrong players were put at the wrong positions!

After lot of thought and effort, inter-project transitions were carried out [though not all at once, keeping projects’ interest in consideration]. More ownership was given to the senior members while also allowing space and opportunities to the junior members of the team.

Management called in John and offered him to take on a higher role. He was clearly explained the potential that it had for John’s learning and growth as well. Although little reluctant, John accepted it on the condition that he’ll work on that role for 2-3 weeks and if not satisfied, he’ll go ahead with his resignation. Those 2-3 weeks on the new role changed John’s mindset completely. Although he couldn’t use all of his experience in the new role, he had lot of scope for further learning, more ownership and responsibility.Now it has been 2 years that he’s still a part of that organization and taking care of bigger and better projects!

CHAK DE!  

For more lessons from CHAK DE, check out my other post on this blog:

http://preetangels.blogspot.com/2007/08/chak-de-lessons-for-life.html