Using Mistakes to Build Team Cohesion

trip-and-fall-case-lostSo I’m working with this team and it’s a really daunting situation. There is every reason for things to fail big time. So I play it safe. I work really hard to make sure that I don’t make any mistakes (social, political, you name it). And I feel like I can’t build up any relationship with the team. Nothing. Nada.

So I scratch my head and wonder, “What’s wrong with these people?”

There seems to be this invisible barrier – they accept me because they have to, but they really don’t want me around. Me? I’m going nuts. Every day feels a little bit more aggravating than the next. Nothing seems to get through to them. Finally, there comes a meeting where I totally screw the proverbial pooch. Nothing major, no fights, no cursing, but something I say really pisses off the whole team. And they are mad, really mad.

So I get the team together, I apologize to everyone involved – take full responsibility for being a jerk (pick myself up off the floor, dust myself off) and we move on. Funny thing happens though…the barrier is gone. That’s right, the quality and tenor of the conversation immediately takes a jump toward the positive.

It wasn’t until I tripped and fell that the team started to show some signs of accepting me. It took me three months. Note to self: I’ve got to remember to fall flat on my face faster next time. I think they were waiting for me to show some signs of being human (and not some sort of Agile Superman) before they were willing to accept me on the team.

Or I could be over analyzing the whole thing. Who knows? All I know is that I feel a whole lot better working with that team since then.

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