Create a Monster of a Team Through Input, Recognition


The recent passing of the hilarious actor Gene Wilder has renewed interest in the classic comedy, “Young Frankenstein.” I heard a great story about Mel Brooks, the famous director of the film, where he talked about a well-loved scene from the movie. Brooks wanted to cut the scene where Dr. Frankenstein and the monster tap dance to “Puttin’ on the Ritz.” His team member, the young Wilder, was adamant about keeping the scene in the movie. Brooks, as the boss with the ultimate decision-making power, was skeptical but eventually agreed.

When Mel made the decision to use the sequence, he was quoted as saying, “You know, Gene, I’m really glad you argued for it, because it turns out to be the best scene in the whole movie. Maybe you were right.”

This is a perfect example of two very important aspects to the kind of teamwork that leads companies successfully into the future: 1) seeking and accepting valuable input from team members, and 2) using praise and recognition for their efforts.

We all enjoy and realize the value in team-building exercises, such as outings away from work, group training that utilizes games and personality assessments, and
even eating lunch together (cited in research led by Kevin Kniffin of Cornell University). But the day-in and day-out benefits of caring about your employees, taking team members to new levels of ability and leadership, and getting ideas from your team so management has the opportunity to say “You were right!” are time-tested tools that never go wrong.

These activities build cohesive and goal-oriented teams that are essential to a company’s future. The time to lay the foundation is now.