My son came home crying from school recently. I could tell he'd been holding it in all day, because as soon as he walked through the door and I asked how his day was, he burst into tears. Uh-oh, I thought. So, I braced myself and sat down with him on the couch, and with a cuddle, asked "what's up? Why are you upset"?. He proceeded to tell me that they had sports in the afternoon, and he was the last person to get picked for the team. Ouch.
I remembered back to my youth, when 2 people were called out to the be the team captains, and then they alternately chose the people to be on their teams. Mostly, they picked their friends first, then the sporty people, and then the best of whoever was left. I remembered how brutal it was to be the one of the last 2 people, hoping and praying that you wouldn't be the last one left, the person the team got by default. Been there, felt that. It hurts.
I thought about how this plays out in the workplace. When there is a new initiative or a working group, or the organisation asks for volunteers, and then picks the team for the task at hand.
Are you one of the ones that gets picked? Or are you left till last, or not picked at all?
Often in organisations it looks like it's the same people that get chosen all the time for new projects or initiatives, and I like to think that it's not because they are the 'favourite' but more that they have the right skills, mindset, character and capacity to get the best outcome for the organisation. (I realise this is sometimes not the case).
If you are the 'team captain' are are choosing people, it's useful to apply the YES thinking to your selection process:
Y = You (them) Are they the best person for the job? Do they want to do it? Do they have the capacity to do it, and commit to it?
E = Enthusiasm - Are they enthusiastic? Will they bring positivity and engagement to the task at hand?
S = Skills - do they have the skills and experience that the team needs?
This often comes down to how we see people show up, everyday, and what we know about people. If you are the type of person that is positive, brings energy and enthusiasm to work, engages well with others, works collaboratively, and is solutions focused, then you are more likely to get picked. If you often spend time being a 'Debbie downer', playing the devils advocate, and are generally the anti-everything grumbling person, you'll likely not get picked at all. It also comes down to skills. Do you have the skills to get the job done? Will you contribute to the success of the project? or just make up the numbers?
If you are the person wanting to get picked, or trying to decide if you should put your hand up and say YES to the opportunity, you can also apply the this lens by asking yourself these questions:
Y = You (the person) Am I the best person for the job? Do I want to do it? Do I have the capacity to do it, and commit to it?
E = Enthusiasm - Am I enthusiastic and passionate about the project? Will I bring positivity and engagement to the tasks and the team?
S = Skills - do I have the skills and experience that the team needs? Or is someone else better suited?
When you are a team player, it's about the best outcomes for the team and organisation, not for you and your ego. Often there is an element of humility that comes into this and being able to say "actually, I'm not the best person for this, you should ask Tom".
As for the people that you don't pick, don't leave them wondering, tell them why. Most people will understand if you give them the reasons (and they are valid) and it gives them something to think about or work on for next time a project comes up. If it's you that keeps missing out, ask for some feedback, find out why you get overlooked, and then say thank you for whatever they share.
1 Learning: People notice how you show up. Show up as the best version of you, the version that you would want on a team.
1 Opportunity: Think about the last time this happened to you, or you were selecting a team. Did you choose people based on their skills, experience, capacity and enthusiasm? Or did you pick your friends?
1 Action: If you are the one not being picked, find out why, and see if there is anything you can work on. If you are the one choosing, give people feedback that missed out - help them improve their chances of being chosen next time.
As for my son, when I ran through this with him, he begrudgingly admitted that he was not the best at the particular sport and could understand why others got chosen first, but still didn't think he should have been last. He also opted for "I didn't want to play anyway - that game is dumb".... My eleven year old is a work in progress, much like the teams that we lead. Small steps... one lesson at a time...