Being in the “Teams”

Teamwork

Teamwork (Photo credit: tim ellis)

Organizations try to promote teamwork and collaboration via different means. It is of course beneficial to the long term success of not only the organization but also the individuals involved. However in my experience I have seen some interesting behavioural aspects around this. Of course there is the one common extreme of individualism and egos. People not wanting to work in teams or share success with others. However there is also an interesting variation where people do understand what working in teams is about, to some extent. The difference is in the way they view teams around them or the groups they actually consider worthwhile to be called as the real teams.

If we view the standard organization structure, it is the standard triangle that we all know and understand, oh so well.

org_chart1

Organizations in their effort to promote teamwork and collaboration in the scrambling masses tend to showcase their senior folks who worked jointly with other senior folks to achieve success via teamwork, among other things. In general senior teams are showcased who have would have had many successes to their name. This is by no means bad, however just focusing on certain senior groups produces an unintended effect.

People being to think of these senior groups and teams as the “real teams” that matter. In fact the only definition of teams center around these groups of leaders and senior achievers whether in Management, Administration or Technical domains. So everyone in their zeal to get into the “real teams” increase their scrambling quotient! People stop considering their peer groups as the teams they work in. Rather peer groups are just a collection of rivals that have to be defeated or otherwise sidelined in order to get that visibility, that leverage to get into the “The Teams”. This is just the opposite of what the organization actually intended. So we get the following structure.

org_chart2
A very sad state of affairs that I noticed quite often. Can this be avoided ? Certainly. However to my experience the senior levels in large organizations do not seem to even attempt to understand the situation.

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4 thoughts on “Being in the “Teams”

    1. moinakg Post author

      There is no complete solution for these kind of problems but mitigations can be done. One simple action managements can take is to highlight groups from the lowest levels who have demonstrated successful teamwork, even once. Do this in corporate programs, all-hands, high-profile events, performance reviews etc. Attitudes should automatically change.

      Reply
  1. Vinod

    I strongly believe this can be solved top-down (rather than bottom-up). The problem with bottom-up based solution’ing is it starts being viewed (sometimes becoming) like a revolt (or coup) and usually that leads to more mess than a solution, unfortunately. Its not unlike a political party where you want to shake the bureaucracy and get meritocracy.

    So, top-down will work miracles – it will be the converse of ‘one bad apple spoils the whole basket’ — here one ‘bad’ apple will do miracles!!! But, as always, we wait sometimes in-vain for that apple………..sigh!

    Reply

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