Rise Performance Group

Aesop’s Fable: A Tale of Teamwork

By Lauren Fleischhauer

Have you ever heard of Aesop’s Fable, The Belly and the Members? Well the fable reads:
“One fine day it occurred to the Members of the Body that they were doing all the work and the Belly was having all the food. So they held a meeting, and after a long discussion, decided to strike work till the Belly consented to take its proper share of the work. So for a day or two, the Hands refused to take the food, the Mouth refused to receive it, and the Teeth had no work to do. But after a day or two the Members began to find that they themselves were not in a very active condition: the Hands could hardly move, and the Mouth was all parched and dry, while the Legs were unable to support the rest. So thus they found that even the Belly in its dull quiet way was doing necessary work for the Body, and that all must work together or the Body will go to pieces.”

When we don’t understand that each person on a team is important, then the group dynamics fall apart. Knowing how each individual person responds to conflict could stop some major stress and tension within the group down the road. The easiest way to reveal the vital information is through the use of assessments. Just like the story above, understanding that each person has different skills, behaviors, and personalities could be the key to successful team dynamics and effective team building.

Team dynamics are complex because each individual person brings a different skill to the table. One person may be more productive, one may handle conflict better, one may take initiative, or one may be better at problem solving. When the team understands what each person’s skills are, then they will be more supportive and tolerant towards that individual. Knowing each person’s skills will bring the team closer together.

In team dynamics, each person may have diverse behaviors. From the time you are born you start to learn behaviors. It’s likely, that no two team members had the same upbringing or type of household so therefore they may have different values, beliefs, or social norms. Behaviors could lead to group conflict as well. Again, knowing and understanding each team member’s behaviors will allow the team to be more supportive of each other which in turn opens up communication amongst the team.

Last, personality plays a key role in team dynamics. Not everyone has the same type of personality. Your personality is made up of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors and that is why it is unique to you. Team members may misconstrue another member’s function if they cannot identity with that individual’s personality. One team member may be shy, quiet, or calm and another person may see that team member as withdrawn or lazy. In reality, that is not the case. That is why it is important for everyone to recognize each individual’s personality.

So how do you understand skills, behaviors, and personality traits? The best way is through assessments. Employee behavior is often compared to an iceberg—about 90% of our behaviors are explained by factors that, on the surface, cannot be easily observed or understood. Assessments go below the surface and provide you with in-depth, reliable information. They give specific data on how to reduce conflict, open communication, and increase productivity with an individual. They can also tell you an individual’s thinking style, behavioral traits, and if they have the right characteristics for a specific position. When building a successful and effective team, assessments are the place to start.

So what’s the moral of the story? Each person brings a different skill set, behavior or personality to a team. Sometimes, it may seem that some team members are doing more work than others but that is not always the case. That’s why communication is key for every team!

Have you ever been in a team that went into “pieces” due to miscommunication? Was it because you misunderstood a team member’s skills, behaviors or personality?

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