It seemed to me that lots of people were posting successes and small wins, so I posted something a long the lines of “Everyone seems to having a great start to the year”.
Boy oh boy, did that open the flood gates!
I have since deleted the (what turned out to be a) contentious statement and taken from it two very important learning points. Something I should (perhaps) have thought about as I am in the L&D field.
One is around communication and one is around team work.
Let’s explore the communication issues first:
My simple statement included a massive generalisation and a massive assumption: “Everyone” and “Great Start”. The group comprises over 100 people, yet I had based my post on the updates of perhaps 20 people at most. So, not everyone: Everyone who has posted recently. Of course, people who didn’t have great news to share or specific questions to ask/challenges to discuss didn’t post anything – the silent majority.
“Great start” is very subjective. The more established members of the group know the journeys of each other, and progress in whatever form is considered good. Some people have secured lots of work and won new contracts, but not everyone. This made some people feel that they couldn’t measure up. I assumed that we all measure success in similar ways, but we don’t. The fact is, we all measure success differently, and we are all starting at different places. Of course, many people have had work fall through, meetings cancelled, proposals rejected. That’s NOT a great start to the year for them!
So, what I SAW and reflected back to the group as my observation was not congruent with what many others saw. Neither perception was wrong, but our viewpoints were very different, and this leads to conflict.
The second learning point is around teamwork.
OK, so we aren’t a team, we are a group, but there’s definitely an element of Tuckman at play here. I joined the group around 3 years ago. There were probably 40 or 50 people in it. Over the last 3 years, the group has grown organically, slowly to around 100 members. People joined in ones and twos. The established group members have a way of behaving and we sort of know each other. There is an accepted culture within the group which has never been defined but exists nevertheless. The new members who join one at a time quickly adapt and fit in.
However, due to a bit of marketing push by the group owner, we had over 30 new members join en-mass.
This is bound to cause a little change to the group dynamic. So, from being a team (in the most loosely defined term) very much in the Norming phase, we were thrown right back to Forming. We are in fact a new group. How we behaved before may not be appropriate for the future. We have to learn new ways of working and build new relationships, and that takes time and effort.
The quite benign (in my opinion) statement that I posted in the group would not have caused any upset, anger or even have been challenged if I’d posted it a week earlier. But my environment had changed, and I hadn’t fully appreciated it.
So, important learning there I think for anyone who works with others. Sometimes, the ‘little’ things aren’t little at all. We need to work hard to communicate effectively, build productive working relationships and work well together in teams.