What exactly is team work? How does it apply to the day to day routine? Does it transcend one’s work and personal life? What do we do when we’re in a position where team work is not apparent and how does this affect us? Lots of questions for my opening soliloquy in this piece.
Having been in bands since a young age music has always been a very important part of my life, so naturally I would turn to my musical inspirations when searching for relatable examples. Last summer I lived a dream seeing The Rolling Stones live in concert. Although the height of their fame came long before I was even born, they have always been one of my greatest influences. Delusions of grandeur notwithstanding (of course I was picturing myself on that stage) I was in absolute awe! For a band that formed in 1962 and who have shocked most people by still going, they were so slick and so together musically. The performance was incredible! They’re talented of course, but the entire spectacle was such a well-oiled machine, and the critics said the same. Nobody expected them to be that good despite their thoroughly deserved legendary status. I thought to myself, how do they do it? I listened to a radio interview with Mick Jagger and he said every day they’re on tour they rehearse their set list from start to finish, including the finer details of who stands where on stage, crowd interaction and so on. Even for the songs that they have been playing for 57 years they rehearse every day, and everyone is 100% committed. Nobody’s ego is too big, they all commit to being in the studio first thing in the morning and they all have an equal say, they support each other, they encourage each other. The short answer: team work.
Bringing it a little closer to home, one of the best examples I have of team work would be my parents. They’re both nurses and when my sister and I were much younger than we are today my parents worked in shifts, as one would expect. What this meant for us was that we would spend a lot of time with just one of them depending on the day and their shift patterns of course. We had a very happy and fun filled childhood and it was only recently that it occurred to me how much we didn’t see Mum and Dad together during the week. If Mum was on an early shift she would often leave before we got up in the morning, so Dad would get us ready for school and drop us off, then when Mum would come home in the afternoon and he would go to work, Mum would pick us up from School and Dad would likely get home after we had gone to bed. No doubt this was tough for them as parents and as a couple, but they never complained and they always made the situation work for my sister and I. Anecdotal as this may be and certainly not exclusive to my family, this is a fine example of team work. They were organized, they supported each other, they shouldered their responsibilities and balanced their lives so that everyone concerned would equally benefit.
One can always find some fantastic examples of team work in the sporting world of course and this was my first thought too, but then I remembered the Ferrari F1 drivers crashing into each other in the closing parts of the recent Brazilian Grand Prix and it shined a light on how important communication is when it comes to team work. This is something we hear from lawyers all too often, that they don’t feel supported or that they don’t feel that their current team works cohesively. When you dig a little deeper, this largely comes down to communication, poor communication more specifically. When considering communication and team work, for lawyers and legal teams across private practice and in-house these are too symbiotic and equally crucial elements to continued success, so it’s naturally perturbing as a legal recruiter when you hear lawyers highlight these to be issues in their current teams. Thinking back to the questions above, how does a lack of team work affect us and how does it affect your day to day routine? Well, it certainly makes your job more difficult and when that happens you start to lose your motivation and passion for what you do. I needn’t list out all the ways in which this can be problematic. So, how do we fix the issue?
First you need to address it, can the situation be resolved where you are? Is it a case of being under-resourced or are the issues deeper rooted? Would more bodies make for better team work? Perhaps the make up of the team is part of the problem? This is something my colleagues and I discuss with lawyers at all levels across private and in-house day in and day out. I can assuredly say that the culture and that element of team work is both prevalent and important for all of the legal teams that we are recruiting for, but for the individual this will look and feel different depending on circumstances. One could think back to The Rolling Stones, to my parents, to Ferrari F1 and wonder how the situation may have changed had that communication and understanding been different. It’s a big what if, but what if you didn’t need to ask the question in the first place?
Associate Director – Think Legal Recruitment
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