Why I’m quitting my job in team effectiveness

March 31, 2015

I wanted to be the first to tell you that I am quitting my job in team effectiveness. I’m going back to keynote speaking, strategy facilitation, leadership development…I’m not sure yet, but anything other than working with teams. Here’s why.

  1. I can’t possibly listen to another person end a really productive day with “I hope we apply what we learned through this process.” Really, I can’t take it. You HOPE!?! So many people waiting for everyone else to change and not being willing to change themselves.
  2. I can’t face another team leader who thinks they’re the universe’s gift to the team: the ones who speak in between each person and always want the last word on every point. How about you just disband the team and just tell everyone what to do. You won’t need me anymore and you’ll stop wasting everyone’s time in meetings.
  3. HR people who think team effectiveness means everyone needs to get along and talk politely to one another. Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!! NO! Happy, smiley teams are probably crappy teams. (Wo)man up people…a little conflict is good for us all. It might even make the scores on your beloved employee engagement survey go UP because people get to make a meaningful contribution!
  4. Leaderless teams. My life is too short to work with leaderless teams where no one steps up and everyone just floats along because nothing is uncomfortable enough to actually make an effort. If YOU don’t care about your future, why should I?
  5. When I start a session with “so what did you take away from last time” and get blank stares in return. Were you with me at the last session…remember, the cramped hotel room with no windows where we spent 8 hours eating stale pastries and talking about what you were going to do differently to make your team better…hello…earth to team members?
  6. Now that I think about it, I can’t spend another day in a cramped hotel room with no windows eating stale pastries.
  7. Having to explain to another team that tension is not something bad we’re trying to get rid of, it’s something constructive that we’re trying to use to optimize the whole. Frankly, if I have to say“tension” or “optimize” one more time, I’m going to upchuck.
  8. The person who chimes in with the old chestnut “we’ll just have to wait and see,” or “only time will tell.” Let me tell you right now what you’re going to see if you just sit and wait. NOTHING! You’re going to see the same sorry lot that you’re lookin’ at now getting the same mediocre results.
  9. “They have no f*!@ing clue.” I can’t face another team in a matrix organization telling me how it’s the other guys who have no clue. Guess what, they’re in a cramped hotel room down the road telling their poor facilitator that YOU have no f*!@ing clue. Is it not obvious that if they don’t have a clue about your stuff that it’s YOUR job to give them one.
  10. I can’t handle that moment at 9:27 when six of the people who agreed at 8:42 that they wouldn’t use their devices are all typing away on their devices. I can’t be polite about that anymore. I CAN’T!!! People, you’re NOT that important. The world will keep turning while you go two hours without looking at your phone!!!
  11. People who are so wrapped up in their own objectives, evaluations, and bonuses that they are guided only by what’s good for themselves. Why even bother with the façade of the team, why not just admit that we’re in the Hunger Games and it’s fine to play nice until resources get scarce and then it’s kill or be killed.
  12. On that note, I don’t want to spend another minute trying to improve team effectiveness for an organization that has objectives, evaluations, and bonuses that set things up to be like the Hunger Games. You’re getting what you deserve.
  13. Having indelible marker all over my fingers, getting sticky tack stuck to the bottom of my shoe, lugging 10 pound rolls of flipchart notes, enduring paper cuts from folding tent cards. I just can’t take it anymore!!!! I QUIT!

Nah, I’m only kidding.  Happy April Fool’s Day everyone. I’m not giving up my job. I love helping teams become more effective.  And while each and every one of those annoyances has happened in the last month (including one near career-ending paper cut), not even all of them together are enough to dampen the amazing feeling when one person says “I never thought of it that way.” Or when two people who have been fighting finally see that they have both been hurting. Or when a team turns around a struggling business by finding new and better ways to work together. Helping teams of people get better aligned and create a productive and healthy team dynamic is the best job in the world.

So you’re stuck with me. But if you don’t mind, it would be great if you could curtail a few of those bad habits I listed above.

What tempts you to pack it in on teamwork? Share your annoyances in the comments.

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