Teamwork has been on my mind a lot this summer. Not just the concept of it and it’s importance, but also the structure and how it works.
It works, because others want to to work. As the IT Crowd clip also shows, communication and the ability to be flexible are exactly the structure that are needed to make a team happen.
I didn’t really do team sports as a kid. I played soccer for exactly one season. Long enough to get a trophy and that’s it. In high school, as a member of the symphonic band as a freshman, I was required to join the marching band. I didn’t want to. I didn’t like football and I didn’t think it was possible to play an instrument and move at the same time. I quit the symphonic band after that first year, but I continued to be a part of the marching band because I liked the team aspect of it. Sure there are soloists and you stick out like a sore thumb if you’re out of formation, but it was a non-competitive way to be a part of a team.
At work, I’ve recently had the opportunity to talk with my fleet manager at length about how he’s working to build a functional team in the garage. My two take-aways from these conversations are that:
- Rock stars do not make good teammates and
- You won’t ever have the perfect team, just moments of a great team.
The rock star thing makes sense. His basic idea behind that is that rock stars, like soloists, shine really brightly but you can’t expect them to carry the band. They might carry the group for a little while, but it’s not sustainable. Rock stars get burned out or become full of themselves and quit to go do their own thing. Regardless, a team made up of rock stars is not a team. It’s a high maintenance entity that will only last for so long.
A team on the other hand has staying power. When people work together the burden is shared and more can get accomplished. Right now, at work, we’re in a prelude to future awesome things. Last fall, our community voted to approve a multi-million dollar bond for education. Our chunk of the pie is that we will receive a badly needed new central bus garage.
Those moments of greatness are enough to keep people energized and believing in the common goal. In the case of roller derby, I get that fix by volunteering to work tournaments as an official.
Being an official is kind of like being a clerk at the grocery store. You’re absolutely not the reason why people watch roller derby, but without referees and non-skating officials (NSOs) roller derby can’t happen. Or rather it can, but then it becomes anarchy on skates.
To prevent anarchy on skates, refs chase the skaters and call out penalties and NSOs chase the refs and echo back the penalties. Or signal back the points. Or tell skaters where to sit in the penalty box (a lot of derby kind of revolves around penalties…).
Again, not glamorous. In fact, you’re basically the bad guy from a Perils of Pauline serial – standing around the track and twirling your mustache just waiting for something dastardly to happen.
But it’s SUPER fun! I like the energy that comes from this kind of collaborative work. Last month, I had the opportunity to travel to Wyoming where I worked with officials from all across the states and was placed on a crew with three of my personal favorites in the roller derby officiating sphere.
In May, I worked a tournament here in Colorado where I met someone my age who not only lives in the town in Iowa where I was born, but works for the local newspaper. Small freaking world or what?
Burnouts still happen. Rock stars still happen. But when you get right down to it, tournaments are the best way to experience derby because it’s derby on a deadline. There is no time for egos. You just have to get down and and get to the derby.
I even like the sound of the word.