Team Building Exercise ’99*…in this post, Jesse Hughes finds his way from military to corporate life, via the corridor of college. His hallway pass is a desire to learn and adapt with the help of humor. (*See his musical choice below)
Catch up on Jesse Hughes’ registration to join student life then read on about business school in his own words……..
It’s all about teamwork
B-School was my transition out of the military; the first day of classes was my last day of terminal leave. Throughout school I stayed focused on the task at hand; doing the assigned readings, turning in assignments, researching different industries and companies for potential jobs; probably in that order.
I still kept to my military routine as well; PT every morning, shower, shave, neatly dressed, scheduled, and organized.
This was different from the habits of the other students. Sure, they dressed well, spent time on school work, and went to the gym. But it wasn’t the same; all their activities were listed on schedules and prioritized against everything else on the schedule. All things are negotiable on that schedule, nothing is protected.
Take PT for example. Working-out for civilians was like a hobby, something they did in a clique, or to talk about in social settings; in the military it was part of the way of life. It is part of the job, so actually doing PT didn’t make you unique or special. Sure there were PT studs and PT duds, but they all did PT. Not so with civilians, most go to the gym as part of an image, or as one more place to network. The same holds true for meetings.
Meetings in the military, while plentiful (an understatement), are organized and punctual. Life in B-School is packed with competing interests. Sounds like the perfect place for a little military discipline, no? So I instilled some in my statistics study group.
I should mention that in B-School they push group-work on everything. Assignments get submitted as a group, graded as a group, etc. The only thing you do on your own is find a job, everything else is teamwork.
So, no kidding …
There I was in a statistics group with two other classmates. The first meeting is a wreck; it was supposed to last an hour, and I stopped checking at an hour and a half. We were supposed to finish the assignment and we only got through half the problems.
Pissed off was an understatement, so I laid down some new ground rules:
• Regular scheduled meeting times
• Divided the assignments 3 ways
• Agreed to do our portion of the work ahead of time
• Agreed that the group time would be used to review the work, and help each other only IF we couldn’t complete our portion individually
The next few meetings went smoothly. We kept to our agenda, got the assignments done, and were able to keep a tight schedule.
It was moving along too well. Problems started to appear midway through the semester. One of the members (keep in mind, there were only 3 of us in the group) started showing up without having done his assignments ahead of time. We were able to absorb the extra burden on our group meetings because 2 of us came prepared and could then do the third person’s work together. A couple times of this and it was starting to grate on me. No doubt it showed.
Eventually at one of the schedule meetings, the delinquent member showed up and politely informed me that he liked me as a person but could not continue working in the group. He explained that he was joining a group that had more relaxed guidelines and more flexible schedules.
He was looking to spending more time just talking to the other group members. It rubbed me wrong at first but in actuality it took real honesty for him to explain his dissatisfaction so directly. He and I have stayed friends since, and I retained the lesson of that group disintegration much longer than the statistics material we covered.
It’s not about the work, the assignments, or the results. These things are all short-term issues, at least from a business school perspective.
What mattered most was the relationships formed, that’s what was most valuable at B-school, and in any non-competitive environment.
In business, you are paid for your skills and hard work, but it is your relationships that provide the opportunity to demonstrate your skills and work ethic. All anyone needs is that opportunity and you get that by meeting people and making friends along the way.
I failed to fully recognize the equities at stake and failed to adjust my approach to focus on the long-term goal. It didn’t end all that badly for me; I stayed close with both other members of the group. One liked my no-nonsense approach. The other liked our frank discussions.
Good luck to you as you begin to manage relationships and make new contacts. You may slip once or twice, but hopefully you’ll learn from my error and make the most out of your new relationships.
* Jesse’s working title was inspired by “Business Time”
Hey! Comment below if the hilarity from this comedy duo, Flight of the Conchords is in tune with YOUR experiences….Send Jesse a note or tell us if you saw yourself in his experience in the COMMENT BOX below.
What strategies did you use at school? Or, on the job?