August 26, 2019

Teamwork is the Best Path to Climate Resilience

Joel Nodelman

About the Author

Joel is an engineer and risk management specialist with over forty years of professional practice. He is committed to helping his clients achieve climate resiliency and sustainability.

A Brief Reminiscence about Teamwork

Last week Joan and I got into a deep discussion about how teamwork is the best path to climate resilience. This all started when I reminisced about my early days as an engineer, right out of university. A young crew, the average age on our team was about 25-years, including our bosses. We had a handful of years of real-world experience between the lot of us. It was like that forty years ago in Alberta. The economy was booming, and we all flooded right out of school into demanding work positions. 

Every Monday morning our team would meet to discuss our plans for the week and to review our progress over the last week. And, every Monday morning we’d agree on what we needed to, only to find the following Monday, we had achieved very little. So, at every meeting we discussed why we were so unproductive, and looked for somebody to blame.  Our young bosses worried, as this reflected on them as leaders us as a team. 

Teamwork Requires Accountability

One day my boss had had enough, and he called in professional help, in the form of a specialist from Human Resources. Yes, I have heard all the jokes about Human Resources specialists, and regretfully, I have shared a few myself over the years. This day, however, the specialist helped us. He told us why we were spinning our wheels. We had all agreed on priorities. We agreed on what we had to achieve over the week. But, we each expected someone else to do the work. He shared an old business saying.  Over the years, I’ve heard many similar sayings, stated with great earnestness. However, this one actually helped.  He said:

“If everyone is responsible, then no one is responsible”

To be a successful team, we had to each agree to own of particular tasks, and be accountable for them. We each had a responsibility to ensure that our work got done on schedule. And, we each had personal responsibility for progress. Everyone knew what was going on.

Acting on this advice we changed the format of our meetings. We each agreed to accept accountability for tasks we had to report on at every meeting. The team got much more productive. At each meeting we’d celebrate our successes and work together to help each other complete their assigned tasks.  We bought into the idea that the success of the team depended on each of us doing our jobs, and that our individual success depended on team success. Things got done!

The weekly meeting became something we looked forward to, rather than a dead drag. We could celebrate together, and we could smooth out the roadblocks for those things that weren’t getting done.

I have worked on many teams.  Some teams were more successful than others. The teams that clicked were those that bought into the very simple message I learned that day from the guy from Human Resources.

Teamwork and Climate Resilience

Climate change follows the same rules. Despite the constant bickering I see on social media, most of us agree that dealing with it is important.  We want somebody to do something. But, we like to take shots at the folks that actually are doing something. Look at the constant flow of vitriol targeted at Greta Thunberg, a sixteen-year-old activist who is gaining terrific success in building climate awareness.  

Climate action cannot all fall on the shoulders of one or two folks, and we should not punish folks for having the temerity to actually do something. We all have to accept a share of the load. Further, we must accept accountability for the share that we own. We need to know what we are doing about resilience in our own little patch. And, we need to manage what we can control. Going even further, we should help others with their climate load whenever we can.

This is teamwork. Own your own part of the job and, wherever possible, help others with theirs. This is the best path to climate resilience. In this case, teamwork isn't optional. We are all in this game together, and we will all benefit from the teams success and suffer from its failure. 

Teamwork, Personal Responsibility, and Climate Resilience

Teamwork is the Best Path to Climate Resilience

We look to governments for action on climate change. But, resilience demands more than governments can do alone. Governments enact policies, and different parties will argue each other into the ground about what is good policy.  Meanwhile, took us to prove who is right through our vote. But, climate action is a personal responsibility. We need to take ownership of our own little patch. 

With all that said, resilience is best seen as a team effort. As the team goes, so goes the player. As the player goes, so goes the team.  Individual success leads to team success. When one of us falls short, managing the issues we own, the whole team's performance suffers.

Our Commitment to Teamwork and Climate Resilience

Joan and I have worked on climate change for decades now. We have done a lot of work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and we have worked towards climate change adaptation. Along the way we learned to focus on where we can have the biggest impact, and which issues we can own. We offer wholehearted support to our colleagues in renewable energy and energy efficiency and draw on that work to fix our own footprint at home.

However, where we have the biggest impact and ownership is in climate adaptation. We can help folks be resilient to changing climate conditions. We can identify the risks, and we can offer solutions we know work, because we have had success implementing them elsewhere. This is our patch and we take ownership of our adaptation work. 

Final Thoughts about Teamwork and the Best Path to Resilience

Climate change is really two big issues. First, getting a handle on our greenhouse gases. This is intergenerational work. We must be successful for our children and grandchildren. Second, we must become resilient to the weird and wacky weather we already see. This is an immediate concern and a very high priority. 

These actions fit together into a package. If we are to achieve resilience, we need to be successful with the whole bundle of work. This success needs teamwork. Teamwork is the best path to climate resilience.  

Call to Action

Resiliency is a choice you can make today.  You are not alone. We are here to help and we are listening. So, ask questions.  Seek the advice of climate risk and resiliency experts.  We all have something valuable to offer.     

Feel free to contact us, we are always happy to listen to your climate, risk and resiliency concerns.  

We created a quiz to test you climate communication style. Check it out.

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