Today Lynda Nel of All a buzz our admin partner, social support, event manager and all round angel explains what happened when she joined the Step by Step Listening team and explored her metaphor for working at her best:
Team Metaphor and what does it look like when your team is working at its best?
What is it like when you’re working at your best? I can’t say I’ve ever been asked that question before working with Step by Step Listening, I have to admit it had me stumped for quite a while.
- What am I like when I am working at my best?
- What needs to happen for me to work at my best?
I don’t know! Until last month, I just got on and did it! Don’t ask me how, or why, that’s what you do in the world of work – isn’t it?
I will admit to knowing I have to ‘work at my best’, work ‘smarter, not just harder’, ‘give it my all’, ‘put my shoulder to the grind-stone’ and on and on with the quotations that, although initially sound useful, don’t actually help or provide me with a concrete foundation to work from. So what about the quote from Antonio Porchia: ‘No one understands that you have given your everything – you must give more!’ Now that definitely resonates! I’ve given my best and yet you’re still asking for more? How do I give more, and how do I explain to you that I’m already giving you my best?
That is, until I had the privilege of participating in creating a Team Metaphor with Step by Step Listening which is made up of now 8 outsourced contract partners. Let me explain.
Building a team metaphor gives everyone a ‘big picture’ or vision for the team and what they are working towards and together as a team. It also provides a specific place within that ‘big picture’ for each individual that is comfortable for them, allows them to work at their best, and allows everyone in the team to understand how each individual works, where they are comfortable when they are working at their best, and therefore how to work together as a team at its best.
The building of the team metaphor began with each individual working on an individual metaphor of how we work at our best. Working in administration and event management, my metaphor is that I am like a maitr’de in a restaurant. When I work at my best, I’m not the Chef (I don’t aspire to the heights of culinary expertise and the long hours involved under the great pressure of perfection). I’m not the Owner of the restaurant (I don’t enjoy the financial responsibilities and strain of employing others and all that ownership entails). I’m also not the Waiter (I prefer not to always work under someone elses direction and to be continually at their beck and call), and I’m not the Patron (I don’t like being in the lime-light). I am the maitre’de. I quietly get on in the background. If you need me, you know how to get my attention. I get things done quietly, quickly and efficiently. I liaise between the owner, the chef, the waiters and the patrons. My role may not seem important, but without it, an awful lot of things would go wrong, making your restaurant experience less than perfect.
After each person in the team had explained their individual metaphors, we then clearly understood how each individual works at their best. The process then continues to finding a common metaphor where each individual metaphor worked together as a team metaphor, and whilst this sounds complicated, it worked out surprisingly well. Our team metaphor ends up being a team race track. Some individuals are racing down the road. The team leader is on a bridge crossing above the race track, overseeing the race and looking ahead. Another member is at the back, making sure no-one is left behind and following up on items to feedback information. There is a rest stop to the side of the track where team members can take time out from the race and cool their engines. And there is the pit-stop where team members must check in regularly for team updates, refuel and change tyres. And my individual metaphor has morphed slightly. I am now the pit crew. I don’t mind, because the metaphor still works for me, and for the team. I’m not in the thick of the race. I don’t oversee the race, nor do I follow behind. I’m there to help the team when they make a pit stop. My role in the race may not seem important, but without me an awful lot of things could go wrong – my team members would certainly find it more difficult to finish the race. I know my place in the ‘big picture’, I feel valued, I feel comfortable with my place, and the team and I understand how I work at my best, and how I help them work at their best.
How do you work at your best?
Does your team work at it’s best?
If not, perhaps you need a team metaphor…
Thank you for Listening
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