Should you bring your team along or leave them behind?

Sorry changed the title after the initial release

This post is a personal story, which is a lesson I learned in 1999. and I remember it every time I am working with a team, especially in a volunteer environment. I have included this story in one of my books and possibly also posted about here on this blog, but I am going through the same experience again, so it is worth repeating.

I remember it every time I am working with a team, especially in a volunteer environment. I have included this story in one of my books and possibly also posted about it here on this blog, but I am going through the same experience again, so it is worth repeating.

The story is about patience, decision-making, procrastination, and volunteer work. Basically, how to bring your team along, when a decision is made? Or should you leave them behind?

The Story

In the late 1990’s, I was working on a mega project in Houston, United States. The project was quite complex, and it included three partners as the project owner – developer. On that project, I was working as a hired consultant to one of the partners but leading the project control function on that project and another mega project that was under development by two of the three partners.

The project team consisted of professionals from all three organizations, which was quite challenging and the concept of team dynamics (formation stages) was directly applicable. We were in the storming stage. Therefore, a team building/team development session was needed, and a consultant was hired to help us through climbing trees and playing games – along with meetings and discussions.

On the last day of the team building exercise, the last session was about feedback, where each of the participants had to give the other team members honest feedback. The feedback has to have two points, a positive point, and an improvement point.

Going through the hurdles on the project life cycleAt that time, I was not too patient. It seems that I always wanted to move fast on some decisions or actions, even when some team members might not have been ready. Therefore, when it was my turn to receive the feedback, a colleague, Wes Agnew, gave me his feedback. He said, “Mounir, you have to be careful, you might get to the bus faster than some of us (reach a decision on an action), but remember not to leave until everyone else is on the bus.”

I took that feedback to heart, and I recall it every time I am in a situation where I think we are ready to move but notice that not everyone is on the bus. In the past, I used to lose patience and get angry because I would be wondering what is going on and why people are hesitating or cannot make up their mind.

This situation is happening today (2016) in one of my “volunteer” engagements. Maybe I did not learn the lesson, and some will think that I am still not patient enough. Read on before you judge me :).

The challenge

However, some people might take too long to get on the bus; or they might hesitate too much; maybe they do not want to be on the bus. In those situations, what do we do?

The way I work with any team is per the following:

I will be at the bus waiting.

I will be explaining and be sharing my views on why we need to get on the bus.

I will be transparent, motivational, and focus on facts – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I will wait for others and coach and mentor as necessary … but only for a while.

I tell my team, “let me know if you are not ready to board, and I will do my best to ease the transition and explain why we need to be on the bus.” However, if some hesitate too much or cannot make up their minds, then we leave without them!

Now, 2016 again, In addition to the lesson that I learned above, I have also added two things to consider. We need to determine:

(1) Is the bus working? If not, maybe we need to replace it.

(2) Maybe we do not have a driver, a qualified driver capable of driving this bus on the dangerous road ahead.

In the current situation that we are facing; it seems like we are facing all of the challenges (1) the bus is broken, we do not have a driver, and SOME people are hesitating. Soon will know if we can overcome!

What do you think?