reflections related to disability advocacy, family and (needed) cultural change
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Teaming for Success
OK, I'll admit it. When I take my car to the shop I have a brief conversation (what's wrong?), leave the keys and head home. And when I go to pick it up I ask almost no questions, nod a lot at whatever they tell me, pay and leave.
I know very little about cars, expect the professionals just to 'do their job,' and I'm out of there!
My husband, on the other hand, has made it his business to know a lot about cars. He chats with the mechanics before, during and after any work. He discusses products and possibilities and knows exactly how the decisions made in the shop should play out on the road.
He listens, he learns and fits all the advice and information he gets from the car mechanics to figure out what to do for which car, and when to do it as well as which cars to keep and which to replace. He incorporates all of what he learns into an overarching transportation plan that he has in mind.
And who do you think gets better service from the mechanics?
Me with the 'dump and run?'
Or my husband who makes every mechanic part of his car care team?
My husband. Hands down.
Because I throw money at car problems where he builds a relationship and a team...
Teaming up with various professionals and experts is an incredibly useful skill for parents of kids with disabilities and people with disabilities to learn. It's an approach that allows people to make full use of the expertise and skills of others within their own plan and vision for their life.
Teaming makes the professionals you work with more effective as well.
For example, your child's OT will be much more successful if they hear from you that her hand movements are attempted signs, not "random, bilateral waving movements, possibly for stimulation." (Yeah, she was signing 'milk.' She was thirsty.)
And, your physician will be able to do more for you if you DISCUSS the medications you don't intend to take with him. Rather than just not taking them. (Yes, I am talking to YOU!)
Teaming, done well, is a good approach whether you are working on health, educational, transportation, legal, community participation, employment or some other issues.
Tips for successful teamwork:
* Engage and stay engaged. You are the team leader and you "hold the vision," do not let go of this. Set the tone of teamwork from the beginning. Give input, strategize with people and participate in carrying out the plan. Do not disengage, and do not sabotage the plan. When things aren't working, tell the team first to allow for revision.
* Communicate openly. Add your meaning to discussions, give more or new information, keep people oriented on your overall vision, disagree--respectfully and without anger.
* Recognize and set boundaries. Everyone working with you is a team member, but not every team member needs to attend formal meetings--in fact, many can't or won't. This is fine. People's association with you can be enough to create teaming. Respect people's time and understand that some associations are time-limited or situation-limited. (For example, the car mechanic is only 'on the team' when the car needs service--and only my husband will talk to him/her... ever!)
* Respect each person's expertise. Let them do their job WHILE contributing your own info. Respect your own expertise as well. Expect to contribute.
* Diversify your team. New ideas, possibilities and perspective come from NEW people. (Read Never Eat Alone by networking guru Keith Ferrazzi to learn more about this! Chapter 11) Diversifying should be a thoughtful process, but it is necessary. You already know and have access to the resources of your closest friends and family. Grow to grow.
I am the mother of three, wife of one. I am a Partners in Policymaking graduate and a committed disability advocate. I want to catch up on my scrapbooking, learn more about art-journaling, get my house in order, read all the books I have set aside to read and change the world--not necessarily in that order. The opinions in this blog are my own and not those of any of employers.