I had to make an emergency just-before-closing-time run to the grocery store tonight for milk (I have three small kids: no milk == bad morning). As I was leaving, the night shift workers were filing in to stock shelves, clean the floors, etc. I noticed that they were surprisingly upbeat for 11pm. They were smiling and chatting. I worked at a grocery store in high school and I never felt like that on my way into work.
Most people don’t choose night shifts from what I have seen – they get stuck with them. Does that kind of situation bring people together in a way that day workers don’t experience? Is the night shift a common foe that unites people?
Our relationships are primarily defined in terms of shared experiences. Working a crappy shift together, putting on an event, or hitting an unreasonable deadline are all examples of shared experiences that can pull people together. I’ve been speaking on a roadshow this spring and I’ve noticed that the shared experience of putting on a successful event creates a comradery among speakers and coordinators even after very little interaction. But as with any common foe, the bond might not be very durable. When the common foe is removed, there might not be enough shared experiences to maintain a sense of comradery.
So the question is: What can you do in your team(s) to create a sense of comradery by framing a challenge, opportunity, or deadline as a common foe? Are you taking advantage of opportunities for shared experiences that could pull together your team?