Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Apprentice – Episode 3



According to Lord Sugar, week three’s task was “so simple anyone could do it – it was an easy task.”

No task is easy (however simple it may be) if people don’t work as a team and agree team objectives.
And that’s when things can descend into chaos as we witnessed last night.

Each team actually came up with what appeared to be sellable products (even the slightly bilious yellow candles seemed OK because of the scent) but as we have already seen and will undoubtedly see again in the weeks ahead, teamwork seems to come apart at the seams.

And it comes apart at the seams in a variety of ways:  when a clear strategy hasn’t been agreed and confirmed; when egos get in the way; when panic hits.

At Impact Factory a goodly chunk of our trainers come from a theatrical background.  In the theatre people come together to form ‘teams’ very quickly:  the team is formed for a shared purpose, people know their roles and responsibilities; and then it’s all over and everyone scatters to the four winds.

Egos and personality clashes will always be present when people work together – it’s inevitable.  The maturity is whether you can manage your ego and feelings about other people for the greater good of the team.  If that didn’t happen in the theatre, there would be no theatre.

It’s a formula that for the most part works and would be one that the candidates would be well advised to follow, though year after year it never seems to happen.  We were joking in the office again that maybe candidates are chosen who have never watched the programme before because it is astonishing that people don’t just make the same mistakes as in previous series but they seem to make them with even more disastrous results.

You could say that’s human nature – I say it’s a degree of immaturity and ego.

My favourite crash and burn moments last night were the tussles between Lord Sugar and James:  “You would have done what I done Lord Sugar.”  Don’t do it, don’t do it James!  And he did….more than once.

To work well as a team you have to have a good strong ego to believe you can accomplish what you need to accomplish and at the same time you have to be able to put your ego aside to work well in a group.  If you ever watch those choir programmes with Gareth Malone you see him looking for voices that will blend and that when people sing together that blending makes the whole choir stronger and more interesting to listen to.

Individuals excel in solo spots but the most compelling parts of the music are when the choir sings with passion and unity.

That’s what’s lacking so far:  the teams aren’t singing in unity and so far no one has displayed the skills to create that unity.  Last week I talked about a good project manager being able to take on any task; this week it’s about how well and how quickly a project manager can create a team that works well together.

I said earlier that in the theatre people come together for a shared purpose; if each project manager worked with his/her newly formed team to agree a common purpose that helps define the progress of the task and the individual responsibilities within that task.

Teams aren’t substitute families; they aren’t group therapy; they aren’t a forum to point fingers and blame.  Good teams (as well as having a common purpose) are places to pool ideas and consider each one equally; they are supportive; the whole really should be better than the sum of its parts; they should be able to resolve differences and conflict quickly and easily.

Lots of ‘shoulds’ there and once again I look forward to seeing whether any of the future project managers come anywhere close to forming a well-integrated team that works in unity.


Check out Impact Factory’s range of Communication Skills Training.

By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory

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