While speaking to a group of human resource professionals, someone in the audience asked me if I had a recommendation for handling a problem that she was having with two of her team members.
She explained that she had two managers on her team who used to work well together. But lately, these two managers were constantly “locking horns.” Neither was willing to compromise or see issues from the other’s perspective.
What frustrated her the most about the situation, however, was that each of the managers shared the same passion for their team’s success. They were both talented, dedicated, humble, and hard working—and valued those qualities in others. She wondered if these two managers realized how much they had in common.
I told her it sounded like she had a pina colada problem.
Presumably assuming that I meant her situation called for an alcoholic beverage, the rest of the audience laughed at my response. When the laughter died, I assured everyone that I wasn’t referring to the beverage, I was referring to the song.
Rupert Holmes topped the pop charts in the late seventies with a song titled “Escape.” The song was about a man whose current relationship grows stale. One night while reading the newspaper, the man happens upon a personal ad from a woman looking for a companion, who among other things, likes pina coladas.
Because of the song’s catchy chorus, it’s often known as “The Pina Colada Song.”
If you like piña coladas
And gettin’ caught in the rain
If you’re not into yoga
If you have half a brain
If you like makin’ love at midnight
In the dunes on the cape
Then I’m the love that you’ve looked for
Write to me and escape
Intrigued, the man replies to the ad and arranges to meet the woman “at a bar called O’Malley’s” to “plan (their) escape.”
The song’s final verse reveals the man’s surprise when he arrives at O’Malley’s and discovers the woman from the ad to be his current lover. The two of them realize in that moment that they already have in each other what they seek in a relationship.
Much like the couple in the pina colada song, relationships between teammates can sometimes grow stale. The familiarity of working alongside the same individual for extended periods can lead to indifference. Whenever this happens, the proverbial grass starts to look greener elsewhere and planning an “escape” seems increasingly more appealing.
I told the audience member that she needed to remind her managers of how much they had in common—especially their mutual passion for their team’s success. I recommended that she start by independently asking each of them three simple questions:
1. Is your team’s success important to you?
2. Are you committed to your team?
3. Are you willing to sacrifice for your team?
If her description of the two managers is accurate, I suspect both will answer the questions the same way. Once she gets them to remember that they are both working toward the same objective, she will be able to delve deeper into what specifically is causing their indifference.
Alcoholic drinks like pina coladas have a reputation for being social lubricants. For driven, committed teammates who are willing to sacrifice “me” for “we,” a reminder of shared values can be just as effective in terms of breaking down communication barriers.
In an interview with Songfacts, Rupert Holmes said his pina colada song was originally set to be titled “People Need Other People.” Though not nearly as catchy, the original title does capture a “good teammate” insight: No team members achieve success without the help of their team.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.