Virtually every working person I’ve ever come across believes in teamwork. At least they say they do. Sadly, a scarce few of them make teamwork a reality in their organizations; in fact, they often end up creating environments where political infighting and departmental serenity are the norm. And yet they continue to flaunt their belief in teamwork, as if that alone will somehow make it magically appear. I think that only a small minority of companies truly understand and embrace teamwork, even though, more than one in three of the Fortune 500 publicly declares it to be a core value.
“I would like to start by asking a question – What is a TEAM? I would say it’s an ‘Allegedly Cohesive Summation’ of INDIVIDUALS”
Contrary to conventional wisdom, teamwork is not a virtue in itself. It is merely a strategic choice, not unlike adopting a specific sales model or a financial strategy. And certainly, when properly understood and implemented, it is a powerful and beneficial tool. Unfortunately, management theorists and human resources professionals have made teamwork unconditionally desirable, something akin to being a good corporate citizen. As a result, we see many of today’s champion managers adopt this theory without actually realizing what it entails. Take them in a corner, confide them, and ask them the truth – “Why do u actually follow team work?” They would say – that’s the convention about employees in today’s organizational portfolio.
Of course, none of this is to say that teamwork is not a worthy goal. There is no disputing that it is uniquely powerful, enabling groups of people to achieve more collectively than they could have imagined doing apart. However, the requirements of teamwork cannot be over hyped. Becoming a team is not necessarily right for every group of leaders. The fact is, building a leadership team is hard. What follows is a realistic description of what a group of managerial executives must be ready to do if they undertake the nontrivial task of becoming a team.
Individual Work Vs Group Work
You might ask which one according to me is better - Group Work or Individual Work? I would say Better is a relative term and also that Work per se is a glossary in itself. Each and every type of work is unique in itself hence one can never predict or prove the magnitude of significance of either of the two. The importance of either is purely situation based. We can assume one thing safely, at least for accuracy tasks, groups perform better than individuals. The outcome of an accuracy task depends on the most competent member of the group. All it takes is one person who is correct, and the group will succeed. It follows from this idea that the more people who are working on a problem, the greater the odds are that someone will be competent enough to solve it.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the passage, group work is religiously practiced just because it is socially, politically and organizationally more famed than individualism. Being a part of the call centre industry for 2 yrs – let me quote an example which is close to my heart – A call centre typically has the following hierarchy in operations: CCM
- Customer Rep
Let me elaborate – it has one call centre manager (CCM) who has more than 5 Team Operation Managers (TOM) in every section. A TOM heads more than 10 TL’s each who further look after a team of at least 10 executives. Now keeping apart the organization culture and philosophy (which only sounds good in text books or countries like Japan), every executive will have his own philosophy and attitude towards work, his own objectives and his own agenda. Imagine a team which is consistently leading the floor for 6 months and in comes a new comer who is very low on job loyalty, a dimwit with a scarce motivation and stimulus to work. Assuming that the team tries their best to get him on his feet and try every possible trick in the book to push him...