Guest speaker at chamber breakfast discusses why team oriented offices produce better work

Published 6:36 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Lori Auten spoke about teamwork in the workplace Tuesday at the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce’s Early Bird Breakfast. Auten is the CEO of Columbus organization Focus Consulting Group, which does group facilitation, organizational developing consulting, coaching, personality assessments and strategic planning and growth consulting.

“We’re all a part of a team in one way or another,” Auten said.

Auten said teams that are poorly run are 40 percent less profitable and 50 percent less productive. Higher performing teams have lower healthcare costs, according to Auten.

“When the individual person can set aside their needs for the good of the whole, the things that don’t seem possible on paper all of a sudden become possible,” Auten said. “Politics goes away, conflict goes away, friction goes away.”

Auten discussed Patrick Lencioni’s work on team management, including showing a model of five behaviors of a cohesive team, which were building trust, mastering conflict, achieving commitment, embracing accountability and commitment to results. Trust included being vulnerable and admitting when you were wrong.

“You cannot perform at your peak when you don’t trust your coworkers, when you feel like maybe they don’t have your best interest at heart,” Auten said.

Auten said some ways to build better trust is recognizing fundamental attribution error, getting to know team members better and going over personal histories.

Fundamental attribution error is where people attribute the bad behavior of others as a character defect but attribute their own behavior to circumstances. Auten said people should try to give their coworkers the benefit of the doubt.

“And the way that I find this successful is I like to picture that teammate who I’m frustrated with who aggravates me all the time. I like to picture them as my child, and maybe my very best friend, two people I would definitely be giving the benefit of the doubt,” Auten said.

“I don’t make those assumptions about them, and so treat that person in front of you as if they’re your child or your best friend or your spouse. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Try that for seven days.”

Assessments to learn coworkers’ preferences helps people better understand their teammates and work more efficiently, according to Auten.

Personal histories ask somewhat difficult questions for coworkers to answer.

Auten said they help coworkers see each other for who they are.

“This is usually best done in a facilitated situation, and people share some very deeply personal things. And you get to know and hear what they’ve experienced, and it gives you a different perspective,” Auten said.

“I had two team members, this has been awhile back, who had worked together for 15 years, and one looked at the other and said ‘I had no idea about that. Had no idea that happened to you.’ Just gives you a completely different perspective on that person, helps you see them as a person.”