Time to Appreciate Your Colleagues

  • Jul 12, 2017

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so. Mark Twain

Several years ago I accepted a position as an assistant coach for a semi-professional American football team in Japan. I'd played college football and had been a "fan" but not a "student" of the sports since I could walk. It didn't take long to realize I wasn't qualified for the job. At times I felt like my knowledge of the game was very limited. It was a humbling experience.

How many times have you heard someone speak with authority on how someone else should do their job or run their business? It's pretty easy to make broad statements when you have absolutely no responsibility or investment in a project. You are the proverbial "arm chair quarterback".

Two of my colleagues went on vacation this week. It didn't take long to gain a new appreciation for their skills and work output. I hope our team understands the value of each contributing member, but human nature runs against this concept. Mountain monkeys spend a great deal of time defending their small piece of territory. It's a shame when we emulate the primate's behavior.

A good exercise for any organization would be to give every employee in turn one extra day off. The focus of the exercise would be to evaluate how well the team can cover and complete the tasks normally done by their colleague. In most cases, gaps in knowledge and deficiencies in necessary skill sets would soon be discovered. The resulting paradigm shifts might encourage better cooperation and mutual support.

Your respect for someone else escalates after you walk a mile in their shoes. We encourage you to try on a pair and find out.