In some circles, using the expression of “teaming” refers to the process of gathering the various staff members, support personnel, leaders and operational folks into a cohesive unit, all focused on the organization’s mission. Often, this cohort gathers for an extended period of time, perhaps away from the office with some kind of facilitator, in order to discuss the purpose of the organization, its goals, vision, and so on. There can be meals involved, as well as activities and discussion questions, for example, designed to enable participants to “bond,” to feel connected one to another, not just as cogs in some machine working in the same place.

The idea of “teaming” is that if people in the same work unit can experience their colleagues in ways other than simply a worker bee alongside other worker bees then genuine human interaction can occur. Perhaps people will share information more freely. They  could support one another with their gifts in ways that strengthen the project and improve outcomes. They can build trust with each other. They could tolerate different approaches to problem-solving, different ways of seeing the world, different opinions on various subjects. They could disagree without being disagreeable. “Teaming” activity is not just a fun way to get out of the office on a nice day. It is essential to an improved workplace, increased morale, and healthier, happier workers. I would add: essential to a less shaming environment, key to maintaining the commons.

Spring Training is the baseball world’s equivalent of corporate teaming activity. There are questions of “who shows up;” that is, are players there to support the team or only present to make sure they get into the limelight? It’s interesting to watch as new players, returning players, rookie-hopefuls, and even walk-ons all come to one spot and begin the process of teaming. Every year, it’s a new season. Every year, a new team comes together to shape what the rest of the year might look like. Aside from assessing who might make the starting rotation in terms of pitching, and who might start at a particular position, coaches and managers get a sense of what it might be like setting out for the next six months with these guys. Do they get a sense of excitement? Will it be fun? Or is there a sense that this season could be very long, very tough, in terms of trying to live with these guys, let alone try to win baseball games.

As a baseball fan in a new town, this will be my first year to join in that teaming process here. I am going to Opening Day. I will don the team’s colors. I’ll get a program. I’ll fill out my scorebook. I’ll begin learning the players’ names, positions, backgrounds, personalities. I’ll begin the process of becoming part of the overall team experience in my new town. I’ll still listen to to my former team, the one I grew up with, but I look forward to expanding my cadre of teammates. I look forward to adding my voice to others as we grow together this year as a team. It’s also my first year of retirement. I’m building a whole new team in other ways as well. I’m grateful that baseball will be a part of that new teaming effort.

I’ll say more about this retirement teaming effort in future blogs. I want to talk to more people about their experiences of moving from organizational teaming to the next journey.

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