Where is your team?


It’s the team which needs to be successful in a mission. Even if it’s an individual sport or performance, there is a team which is making it happen beside the performer who may the focus. The best of sportspeople, singers, dancers, actors, authors, speakers to managers at work and business-people, everyone needs the team to work towards a common goal. The more aligned the team is, members devote their heart and soul more … the output gets that much better!

Modern management theory and practices have given a lot of weight to individuality and rationality in its day to day life. Rewards, recognition, performance appraisal, bell curves, high-performance culture, bottom-boxing, top-grading etc are examples that managers adopt to drive performance in their teams and organizations. Simultaneously, they also adopt practices like fairness, equity, learning, development, engagement, fun at work, celebration etc to create a feeling amongst the team that each one is valued. It’s a bit of dichotomy in the approaches, however, the fact of life is that we need to straddle a few boats simultaneously, minimize conflicts and apply leverages wherever possible. So, the team is important!

Human beings unlike machines feel driven by different things at different times. The factors that drive their engagement with a purpose is highly context-dependent. So, it is a combination of factors that motivate people in their journey to achieve various milestones. The managers are continuously challenged to keep the mission of their journey clear, relevant and attractive. Hence, it is absolutely critical to know what drives the team as a collective. Then, the organization has to find a way to deliver those factors to the collective. As long as there is a match between what the collective is looking for and what the organization is providing, the attrition is low, retention is high, engagement is high, customers are happier, partners like doing business with the firm, productivity goes up and profitability rises. Whenever the drivers do not match with the organization’s context, the leaders have the additional task at their hand to understand the gaps between the current reality of their organization and the desired state. They have to influence the thinking of their workforce, make them aware of the context and align their expectations with what the organizational context demands.

This looks so simple : just 3 factors : collective psyche, leadership and organizational context. Yet, many of us don’t get it; and, of those who get it, many of them cannot get this done!

In the heydays of BPO industry, organizations needed a highly engaged workforce who were required to work very hard to please their customers, follow the work processes accurately and speedily. There were a lot of young people in the workforce. So, companies held a lot of parties and celebrations; offered freebies to their employees, invested on rewards and recognition programs. However, in many places this didn’t work; their teams weren’t with them! Their productivity wasn’t going up, attrition wasn’t coming down, profitability wasn’t going up. They missed the fact that their organizational context called for things like discipline, machine-like accuracy and predictability; the workforce wasn’t ready to live by these. So, leaders had to get their teams with them!

It is easier sad than done! Leaders need to be sure of their organizational context, their current reality in terms of the psyche of their workforce and act towards bridging the gaps which may exist right then and emerge along the journey!

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