Walk In Others’ Shoes

shoes-1Management within companies can lecture until they are blue in the face about building and maintaining teamwork but unless the example begins with them it will never happen. The effect of utilizing the management team to effect positive change is critical but not always obvious. Even strong companies assume their managers are communicating and working closely together as a team. But more often managers feel it is their responsibility to handle as much as they can on their own and direct their individual teams. It is not natural to ask for help; it may allow their decisions to be second guessed. Company leadership needs to instill a spirit of cooperation. It is one thing to ask for open exchange of ideas and another to insist on it.

Policies to reward cooperation, idea sharing, outstanding customer service initially may seem forced or contrived. If these policies are encouraged and not allowed to drift away it will reinforce the company ideals that teamwork is critical to its long term success. At each level of the company it may not always be practical to divide the responsibility but if there are various members of the work group it is essential that the mission is understood and shared. Making new ideas or technology short cuts available to the whole group via email blasts, a company newsletter, topic at a team meeting or communicating the information up the management chain is “proof in the pudding”.

The single greatest enemy of teamwork in our society is lack of empathy. Previous generations seemed to have had a better understanding of this. We are so focused on our hourly responsibilities, our personal finances, our families, and our careers we can completely lose sight of the coworker literally sitting next to us. We usually know when to jump in when another employee is struggling or they may even ask for our help. The idea of “walking in their shoes” is much different. It is beyond lending a very temporary hand. It is looking through the eyes of another and trying to understand their perspective. Even for a moment, visualize how they may perceive an issue. We all come from different backgrounds and circumstance. Even if working with people with shared educational backgrounds our individual experiences will always affect our responses. These life experiences when encouraged and shared can have a huge positive impact on a team’s productivity. Respecting a coworker as person and for their contributions cannot be underestimated. You don’t have to like those you work with, but respecting them is not only important to the company but likely to your peace of mind. Can you try to value their contribution or at least understand their role in the organization?

Putting yourself in another man’s shoes allows you to perhaps even see how you maybe perceived by this individual or others. Empathy though not contagious can be a learned behavior.

How much better would your work day be if you could depend on your coworker, not question others motives or work through a difficult problem with assistance? Rather than focusing on your individual efforts look to promote your groups’ skills. Teamwork can be powerful and always yields positive results. But you have to be open to
the possibility.


Trust (in your coworker)teamwork
Emphasize (appreciate and understand your coworkers perspective)
Abilities (of all the team members should be recognized and utilized)
Motivation (is always positive when working with a group)
We (are stronger as a unit than as individuals)
Ownership (this is my company, this is our company)
Respect (the differences and varied skill sets of your coworkers)
Key (to our success-teamwork and communication)