Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In My Dictionary, Team Is Always Spelled Without An I

I’ve worked in so many places that have the lame saying, “There is no “I” in TEAM” emblazoned somewhere in the room; on a poster, a plaque or a desk blotter. I'm glad there's no "I" in team because I don't want to be part of a team.

I am not a team player. Never have been, probably never will be. That’s not to say that if I were to work on a project with you, I wouldn’t be completely competent and worth my weight in gold, but if I had my druthers, I wouldn’t choose to be on a team.

Any time I’ve ever been on a team which was required to do anything significant, I found myself doing a lion’s share of the work. I'm not too thrilled doing most of the work and only getting a portion of the credit. Unless you're on a team where everyone’s goals are aligned , there's always a divide between the workers and the slackers. Let me give you just a few examples...

I've worked at several restaurants. And at many of them, the wait staff had to pool tips. I hate pooling tips. The basic concept behind this system is that all waiters and waitresses will work equally, because they're all getting an equal share of the pay. Customers will be happy because everyone on the waitstaff, not just one person, will be tending to them. In theory, they're supposed to get better service.

I can tell you right now, that doesn't work. I grew up in a family owned restaurant and I was an excellent waitress. I was able to handle a heavy customer load and no matter what task I did, I kicked ass (okay, except cleaning the restrooms - I always traded that job with someone else). And people liked me. So WHY would I want to work my ass off so someone less capable can get a portion of my tips? And if someone specifically requested me, why should someone else wait on my customers?

I wasn't the only good waitress. There were people even better than me, if you can believe that. One girl, who had been there for years, kicked all our asses. People would come there just to sit in her section. She was so skilled, so personable, so good. It's not fair for any other person to have the tips she worked so hard to get. The only people who pooling tips benefits, are the ones who know how to artfully slack. And when they do, the boss is never around to see it happening. Not a team I'm interested in being part of.

Another example is office work. We'd inevitably get a "project" that required several people's input. And I was always on the "team" with the one person who had kids (so they'd be late because they had to drop them off at school) or the person who had low resistance (so they'd call in sick because they had a "sniffle") or the person who just didn't understand the concept, so they just got in the way. Their "help" turned into a hinderance. Again, not a team I want to be on.

The last example is school. I hated being on teams in school. I think this is where it all started. I don't know what happened once I got to high school, but when I was in grade school and middle school, I was a pretty smart kid. I was always ahead of everyone; be it reading assignments, spelling tests, or home ec projects. We'd be asked to read a paragraph and answer questions and I'd be done while everyone else was still reading. I hated being part of a team who had to correct papers...someone would always wind up reading EVERY question, all the multiple choice answers and then finally the actual answer. My preferred correcting procedure would be "1 is a, 2 is d, 3 is c, 4 is b, 5 is e..." and so on. Quick, precise and over without giving me an aneurysm.

For the life of me, I don't know why this team driving thing is working...

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