Everyone Needs to Listen

On a hot summer day back in 1989, a group of five year old boys were on a field with one pig-tailed (and quite adorable, I might add) freckled face girl in a Pirate uniform.

Just like her dad taught her, the little girl wearing her new baseball glove leans down from her spot in right field, her hands on her knees, watching the little batter at the stand, just in case he was to knock that ball as hard as he could. She’s on the tip of her toes, she’s ready to make a play, and she glances around to see which way she can run. That’s when she spots the boy in centerfield sitting on his butt and picking flowers.

“Hey!” She yelled, “Get up and get ready for the ball!” This little girl did not have a soft or soothing voice. She was loud and when she yelled at this boy, every parent and player heard her.

This story is true – and it’s quite possibly one of my dad’s favorite stories about me. The thing about being on a team sport is that you all have to be in it 100% – -and it’s the same idea for working on a team in the office. If one person on your team is sitting down and playing with flowers, then you’re not all in it. We collaborate all the time in the work place and there are three essential parts of collaboration.

  1. Everyone has a voice. On a team, everyone is responsible for collecting information and helping out. Everyone should be communicating together and respecting each other’s viewpoints. You have to listen if you’re going to succeed. How many times have you seen the catcher go out to the mound to calm down a pitcher? The catcher isn’t the coach – but they are a team, and they have to listen to each other.
  2. Everyone is responsible. On a team, everyone has a job, and they are responsible for that position. A center fielder who is sitting on his rear end in the middle of a game is not doing his job, and if he misses a big play, everyone is going to feel it.
  3. Everyone listens. Not only do you have to listen to each other, you also have to listen to the team lead and respect them as such. Think of a short stop and a third baseman both going after the same pop fly. If you don’t communicate and listen, then you’re going to slam into each other while trying to make a play.

I’m sure none of us realized, while playing sports as a kid that we were being trained for life in the business world, but we were. The principals we learned working together on that team, we should be carrying them with us into our lives every day. How are you applying team sport principals to life in the office?