How the Pros Make Teamwork Work, No Surprise It’s About “Communication”

I’m a big hockey fan and follow the New York Rangers in the National Hockey League here in the US. One of their key players this year started his season scoring 12 goals in 15 games, the most success he’s had in his five year major league hockey career.

After a game one night a reporter asked him about the success he and his two offensive linemates were having. I thought his reply offered a great lesson for organizational leaders trying to build high-performing teams,

“…Things are happening with us,” No. 17 Brandon Duinsky said after going to the net for a pair of goals on setups both times from linemates Ryan Callahan and Artem Anisimov. “We have constant communication about what kind of plays we’re looking for.”

“…It’s becoming more and more instinctive, but that’s because we’re always talking. If I’m coming out from behind, I’m telling Cally and Artie, ‘This is where I want you, I don’t want to have to look, you be there.’ It’s a combination of trial and error, and communication leading to us being instinctive.

The lesson in Dubinsky’s quote is that in order to create an instinctive relationship with teammates where everyone thinks alike to get things done, it takes constant communication.

But, it also take key players who are willing to step up and speak in specific terms telling their teammates what they need and want in certain circumstances so guessing and mind-reading is not required.

There’s a saying that goes ‘you can never communicate too much.’

I’m not sure I agree with that, but I do agree that most teams in businesses and not-for-profit organizations do not communicate with enough specificity.

Additionally, I believe a significant deficit in self-confidence and self-esteem keeps team members (and a lot of team and organizational leaders) from asking, in specific terms, for what they want and need.

And, I believe this (and the egos that try to cover up for the lack of self-confidence and self-esteem) is the primary thing preventing high-performing teams from developing in many, many organizations.

’til next time, make it a great week!