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Managing Your Team (Part 10) – Why Assumptions Are Dangerous


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From the day we are born, we begin our own unique development process which can be influenced by our parents, our siblings, our teachers, our friends, our church, our faith, our readings, society and so on. Part of this unique development process is establishing our own set of values that stay with us through life.

These values drive our belief system which, in turn, influence our behaviours and actions.

Having a set of values is great. What’s not so great is when we cannot accept a differing set of values belonging to someone else.

Take a moment, think of your team members or others with whom you are in regular contact. Have there been occasions when you haven’t quite understood or totally disagreed with their views or their behaviour?

what was your immediate reaction?

Did you seek clarification, did you try to understand, or did you assume, based on your values and beliefs, that their behaviour was due to…………….?

The danger with this assumption, any assumption, is that it can lead to bad feeling, resentment, even hostility when we start to voice these assumptions, these attributes that we have decided to give someone.

Listen, we can all be guilty of this from time to time. Think about it. Isn’t a lot easier and more comfortable to rationalise someone’s actions and bring some sort of meaning to their behaviours.

The twist is that it is also human nature to get our backs up when somebody does exactly the same to us…

  • I know why you did that
  • I know what makes you tick
  • You never agreed to it in the first place
  • We all know what you think
  • You’re just opting for the easy way out
  • The harsh reality is that this behaviour, assuming that which is not true, is an excuse for not making the effort, for not working at understanding, for not seeking the real explanation.

    Now, this is bad enough if left unchecked within the team. Unfortunately, there can also be a tendency to make assumptions about individuals, even groups outside the team.

  • They don’t want our inputs
  • You know they have it in for us
  • That lot, what a waste of space
  • He’ll never support us in a month of Sundays
  • They’re just waiting for something to go wrong
  • Why is this a problem? Bottom line? It will almost definitely lead to the wrong decisions being made, reaching conclusions and developing actions which are certain to deliver less than favourable results.

    What’s a team leader to do?

    Well, by now, you’ll know that I am going to reiterate the need for well established ground rules, for following a systematic approach, for ensuring statements are based on facts and are well supported. Post the ground rules on the wall in the team sessions. Remind all participants that these were agreed.

    If a comment is made by one team member to another, you can rest assured that the recipient and the rest of the team will be waiting with bated breath to see what your reaction is going to be. Ignoring it is not the right behaviour – think of the messages you send to the team – the agreed ground rules mean nothing, zilch, nada. And, as it happens You really don’t care what they think of each other.

    Being constructive, confronting the issue and not the person…

    “Pete, if I heard it correctly, Willy has just said that your behaviour shows you don’t care whether we succeed or not. How would you describe your behaviour?”

    shows the individuals have and will be listened to and, of course, the success of the team is important. This success can only be realised if everyone is on board and willing to head in the same direction.

    The team member’s suggestions as to why a different group did what they did may well be close to the mark, but how do you, the team, know that? Confirm it, make sure before acting or reacting. Again, the team’s success may depend on it.

    “How does that explain why they took that action? How can we confirm that? What data can we get to show that this is not just an assumption or someone’s opinion.”

    That concludes this 10 part mini series on Managing Your Team. Even if you have taken only one thing, embraced only one idea, it has been worthwhile publishing these articles.

    There are other Team Building articles in the pipeline.

    Andrew Gowans - EzineArticles Expert Author

    Andrew has over 20 years experience providing personal and business coaching specialising in strategic planning, continuous improvement,personal development and lifelong learning.

    Providing a focused problem solving approach through our personal and business coaching (especially to small businesses). Our primary theme and overriding goal is to provide you with the right choices that fit your needs, solve your problems.

    Want to discuss any of these articles further – no problem.

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    • Posted On November 7, 2006
    • Published articles 283513

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