Have you ever had two people on your team who can’t get along?
Maybe they have different personalities. Or different visions. Or maybe they just refuse to work together as a part of the team. Whatever the case, as hard as you’ve tried you can’t seem to bring them together.
One option many business leaders consider is keeping the two team members separated so they don’t make a scene in front of other employees or customers. After all, these two people are both really good at what they do. And they’d hate to lose them...
As good as those individuals may be at their jobs, the truth is when two people reside at an organization - without working together as a team - results of the organization can suffer as much as 70%.
A couple of years ago, I decided to purchase a safety equipment and supply company, Malta Dynamics. Since my expertise lies in construction instead of the safety industry, I set out to find and build a team of top safety industry experts, whom I dubbed “my starting lineup.” I.e. the five players who would be my starters if I were the coach of an undefeated basketball team.
It wasn’t long until I discovered these experts couldn’t be found in the small town where my business resided, so I searched high and low across the country to find them. My recruiting efforts paid off as I ended up hiring some of the best safety experts, engineers and salespeople in the industry - even though they lived all over the US. I was confident this team could take the company where I knew it could go.
I may have been a bit overconfident. For---just like in all good movies, we’ve had our fair share of challenges before the team came together for a “happily ever after” at Malta Dynamics.
The biggest challenge was that two of my starting lineup (managers) could not get along. Even though they were the best of the best in the safety industry and both had ambitious goals to drive the company, they each had different directions they wanted to lead the company in.
Meeting after meeting I tried to get them on the same page with little success. I even paid consultants to dissect the company and its players. To tell me why the company wasn’t progressing as fast as it should be. Or in the basketball world, to explain why we weren’t “winning games.”
When I asked them why they couldn’t get on the same page, one responded that they’d be better off “dividing and conquering.” Against my own gut feeling and knowledge of how winning teams work, I let them work separately while keeping them both on the team thinking the relationship would work itself out over time and great things would follow.
Boy was I wrong! While these players were flying high - independent of one another – sales growth was moving at a crawl.
The timing couldn’t have been better when a manager of one of my other companies presented the Lessons of the Geese at our annual company retreat. These lessons made it obvious that I had to make a change for MD would never survive with players who were on the same team and still refusing to play from the same playbook.
Since the Lessons of the Geese helped me in my time of need, I thought you’d benefit from learning them too:
Lesson 1: Fly Together
Geese fly together in a V formation for a reason. As each goose flaps its wings an intense uplift is created for the birds behind them - adding 70% more flying range to the group compared to a goose flying on its own.
70%! And my team wasn’t flying together.
Lesson 2: Stay in Formation
When a goose falls out of formation, it struggles intensely until it manages to fight its way back into formation.
I had players who fell out of formation and refused to get back in it.
Lesson 3: Take Turns
While flying in the V formation, the lead goose does most of the heavy lifting. When it gets tired, it rotates to the back of the pack to recharge its energy while another goose takes its place at the front.
My players weren’t taking turns carrying the load or giving each other a chance to recharge their batteries.
Lesson 4: Encourage One Another
While flying in the V formation, the geese honk loudly with one another. This encourages one another to keep going while displaying where they are in formation.
Instead of cheering each other on, my players were trying show each other up.
Lesson 5: Help the One Who is Struggling
When a goose becomes unable to fly due to sickness (or a bullet in the belly), two other geese fall out of formation and stay with their fallen comrade until the impaired goose is able to heal enough to fly or dies off.
We had players who struggled, which is normal in building a new company. But instead of reaching out and lending a helping hand, each player continued on their own path.
The morale of this story? Observe your team. Make sure they are on the same page and working together towards common goals as a team. Capitalize on that additional 70% efficiency - don’t fight against it!
Damian Lang owns and operates several companies in Ohio. He is the inventor of the Grout Hog-Grout Delivery System, Mud Hog mortar mixers, Hog Leg wall-bracing system, and several other labor-saving devices used in the construction industry. He is the author of the book called “RACE—Rewarding And Challenging Employees for Profits in Masonry.” He writes for Masonry Magazine each month and consults with many of the leading contractors in the country.