Sunday, July 08, 2007

Team behavior

Humans have operated in teams for time immemorial. If that is so, why is it so hard to get people work and succeed in teams in our organizations?

If teams have existed and thrived in social situations for so many years, why teams take special effort to make them succeed in corporate environment?

Humans have lived, gathered food, held community activities etc. in groups and seems to be happy with it. But, in teams we do not see the same kind of natural involvement. Why?

I think the biggest difference is when we operate as part of teams in social context we are involved with our heart and should. When we are part of teams in corporate environment, we are involved only with head and that's it. So absence of emotions seem to make all difference. Corporate team environment does not encourage emotional involvement. Even if it is, there are only negative emotions or attitudes  such as competitiveness, back stabbing, jealousy and so on.

How can we bring the effectiveness of team in social context to corporate context? First, you can not get people to involve with their heart and soul unless you make them feel it is worth it. In the era of hire and fire, why do people want to risk getting their hearts broken by involving more than necessary in your corporate money making machine? So reward for loyalty is the first step towards improving better involvement of people in teams. It may be very difficult to get the same level of involvement but you can certainly improve the team performance if people know that company and their boss is doing their best to reward loyalty.

One example I am aware of is, one of my previous employers preferred to impose salary cuts rather than laying people off because they felt it was detrimental to good teams they had in place. Sure, some people did grumble but they did not understand that they would not have had much success if their coworkers were let go instead of taking a pay cut.  No wonder company came out of the problems soon after. It would have so difficult to build teams when market turned upwards. People are not replaceable. So do all you can do to keep good people.

All other principles such TLC (Tender, Love, Care), seeking to understand before seeking to be understood, empathy etc. all go a long way in creating better teams. When we use all these to have good social life why not bring the same to work place and improve our team performances.


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