“IMAN is very bossy.”
My family, teachers, friends and co-workers have said this throughout my life.
Though “bossiness” can be a good thing, I am afraid of being TOO bossy, and have tried to control my overwhelming need to take the lead – it’s almost like physically forcing myself out of the driver’s seat, strapping myself down in the backseat and letting someone else take the wheel while I suggest directions.
But learning to work in a team has helped me curb my overbearing personality. So far, my career has been made up of three official jobs. But I have always been a part of teams for as long as I can remember – the Blue House team in high school, Summer Orientation Team and Student Registration Assistance Team at university, Student Academic Success Centre Team when I graduated, and eventually the FashionValet and dUCk teams when I moved back to Malaysia.
I prefer to call them “tribes” because the word “team” can sound very corporate and cold (is it just me?!) and when you say you’re part of a tribe, it sounds more connected, more dedicated, more “We’re in this together”.
Whilst being part of a tribe, there are three things I have come to learn and live by.
Firstly, we fly and fall together. A tribe is not just you, it’s not just me – it’s a collective of strong personalities who contribute their best to make things work.
It can be challenging sometimes to collaborate with someone you don’t get along with (I used to hate the “pulling names out of the hat” trick teachers used! Why can’t we choose our own partners?) but set your intentions straight, focus on getting the job done and you may be surprised as to how much you can accomplish with someone you didn’t think you could work with.
Put aside your ego, let go of your need to always “be first or the best”, and prioritise the needs of the tribe, the end goal or product. Remember that when things go well, it’s because of everyone’s efforts, not yours alone.
However when something goes wrong and the task fails, reflect on what YOU could have done better and do not push blame onto anyone else. That’s something that needs to happen more at the workplace – never hold your tribe-mates responsible for what goes wrong, the entire tribe is responsible, including yourself.
Too often we think we are perfect – our work is top-notch, our effort is over-average and nothing is wrong with the way we carry out our responsibilities. When things go well, it’s all “yes, I did great!”, “I did the most” and “I am the reason why this tribe rocked!” but when the task flops, most people tend to run away and say “she was in charge, not me”, “I had nothing to do with what happened” and “It’s not my fault”.
Never forget that you only accomplish your objective if the tribe successfully completes the goal. We fly and fall together.
I am not naive enough to think that there are only rainbows and happy vibes when you are working with others. There will obviously be fights, arguments, disagreements, tension, stress - you name it, we’ve all been there! But never make it personal and do not take it personally.
If you are upset, make sure you comment about the work and not about your partners. It is never all right to say to someone, “You suck. You are the reason why our work is not moving as fast as it should be”. Instead, say something such as “We are not moving as fast as we should be, let’s look at the issues and see what we can all do”.
We are all grown up enough to know we should carry our own weight and contribute as much as we can – if you don’t know that, then here, I am telling you!
There will be times when you are at the receiving end of negative comments and you will be hurt by what people say to you about your contributions or work ethic; I’ve been there too. My initial reaction used to be “How dare she (he) say that to me? Who does she think she is!” but now I go by the mantra “water off a dUCk’s back” (LOL).
Let people throw what they want at you, but just let it slide off like “water off a dUCk’s back” and keep moving forward. This also applies to your mistakes or errors – learn from your slip-ups, take the positives and move on. If your boss or manager scolds you because you made a mistake, accept it, improve and don’t hold on to that scolding because they just want you to be better.
Like ducks, just keep swimming.
Finally, as a tribe you should always be looking out for each other. Tribes are never perfect. We have to trust one another to fill in the blanks.
Too often people run away when it’s a task that’s “technically not in my job description” - but this is the 21st century. We are working in a generation that no longer abides by the nine to five, no more punch cards, no more hierarchies, no more closed-door policies.
Our workflow is fluid, constant and boundaries are blurred. With this freedom, we are also accountable to provide the best service, to be the best tribe-mates and to give our all.
I have been very blessed and am grateful to have had the honour to be part of many remarkable tribes, and have learnt so much from every tribe-mate I’ve worked with. Life is a constant journey of learning from others, passing on what you know and sharing yourself with the world.
Journalism graduate Iman Azman continues to navigate her way through the creative industry as a member of The Duck Group’s marketing team. Here, she muses about her work, finding balance in life and shares what it’s like diving in headfirst into new experiences and opportunities. Follow her journey on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/iman_azman/