Dethroning the dictator: me

Dethroning the dictator: me

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Jul 01, 2010

We tell you to practice what you preach. Meaning, if you tell clients they should use year-round parasite prevention on their pets, then you should too. Well, I just got a dose of my own medicine thanks to this month’s lead story, “Team going nowhere fast?” As I was reading Shawn McVey’s advice, I had to admit that our team was exhibiting some decidedly group-like tendencies—and it was mostly my fault.

You’ll see when you read the story that McVey says many groups are posing as teams. Employees are working side by side but not really together. Then he outlines a few ways to identify whether your team is a really just a group in disguise.

This is where I got held up. I’ve always thought all our editors and designers helped each other out and contributed equally. But when I really started thinking about myself as a manager, I realized I was setting us up to be more of a group than a team.

We restructured in the last year. Instead of editors and designers working on one magazine, such as Firstline, they contribute to everything: Veterinary Economics, dvm360.com, and so on. This has allowed us to use everyone’s strengths and broaden our thinking. But it’s still my job to focus on Firstline and the team sections of dvm360.com.

After reading McVey’s article, I realized I had isolated myself in this world. Sure, I was working with people. They’d hand me articles and layouts to evaluate, we’d discuss changes, and they’d go do what they thought was best.

All this felt like teamwork, but, on close inspection, I figured out that I wasn’t involving anyone in the planning process. I was expecting people to carry out the ideas I dictated. And that’s no way to motivate employees, encourage growth, or discover better ways. 

So I tried to make a change in the process for our August issue. Rather than tell the editors what they’d be doing, I asked how they thought we should address the topics. Then we talked as a group about the best approaches. I’m hoping this brought us a step closer to functioning as an even tighter team. Next step: Ask my team members whether it worked.