For Success in Business and Life, Look for People Who are Not Like You

It’s human nature to find comfort in the familiar. Most of us take the same route to work every day, even though there are probably other ways to go. Despite repeated attempts to try something new at a favorite restaurant, many stick with the tried and true. And, when it comes to human connections, we tend to gravitate toward the people who are most like us.

That last one can inhibit growth – both professional and personal.

Our Support Center team recently split up into groups. We did not choose our group or teammates. Assignments were somewhat random, and that was on purpose.

Each team voted on a name, a mascot, and a topic for deep dive. Every month, one of the teams presents to the rest of the Support Center and the audience awards them points based on the quality of the presentation. Individual employees can also earn points for their team throughout the month when other employees – who aren’t on their team – recognize them for work ethic, attitude, etc. The goal is to encourage healthy competition while keeping each other motivated.

So, it’s kind of like being sorted into Harry Potter houses without the spells or Dementors – though some might argue that public speaking is much more terrifying than supernatural warfare.

The group I’m in presents in July, so we’ve been meeting periodically to iron out topics, overall strategy, and who will handle which areas of the preparation or presentation.

At first, many of us didn’t know each other. Part of the method to assigning the teams was connecting people who don’t have much of a chance to interact or work together. After the initial meet and greet, we started exploring our relative skills.

For example, one teammate is very organized so she became the keeper of ideas, votes, Google Docs, and member responsibilities. Two have keen eyes for design, so one took on initial team-branding and the other got to work on the look and feel of our presentation deck. Some are more comfortable speaking in front of a group than others, so we’re working out how the big day in July will play to everybody’s strengths.

Today, the meetings flow smoother and it isn’t uncommon for one person to complete or volunteer for a task, only to have another chime in with, “Oh, I’m glad you stepped up because I would never want to do that!”

That’s the point – different strokes for different folks!

As this process has evolved, we’ve even started having fun with each other. Last week one rascally teammate decided it would be fun to try to convince another that she was going to jail. We all had a good laugh at that!

If you’re curious about how the points are shaping up, our team is dead last. I think we have two. We still have time to pull off an upset though, so nobody’s sweating it just yet. Maybe we need to focus more on attitude or work ethic and less on prison pranks. Who knows? It truly is a mystery.

Joking aside, it’s no secret that well-balanced teams are better poised for long-term success than their more homogenous counterparts. Recognizing the value in diverse skill sets, and how different strengths can support and propel each other, fosters fulfillment and fun in business and life.




AboutMichelle McCafferty

Michelle joined the Proforma team in 2008. As the Manager of Business Development for Major Accounts, she helps Proforma Owners win new and grow existing programs through proposal and presentation development, as well as periodic Relationship Reviews. Before joining Proforma, Michelle attended Cleveland State University where she earned a degree in Journalism and Promotional Communication.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *