Breaking the Habit : Team Building and Workplace Negativity

“When you form a team, why do you try to form a team? Because teamwork builds trust and trust builds speed.” –Russel Honore

Ever since primary school all of us listen repeatedly about how important synergy in a team is for achieving collective goals. In spite of all the tomes of advices on ideal team building, to this date what remains largely unanswered is the question – “what really goes into building cohesive teams?

Consider the example of a team at XYZ Company, in this team the leader has ensured a good mix of diverse people – two star performers of previous year, two technical experts and three medium performing, less experienced but energetic young employees. This team still faces the challenge of surviving in the long run in spite of sufficient rewards, recognitions and frequent group meetings. Why do most teams work only because they are assigned a task together without deriving satisfaction from work? In this article let us try to first look at different people types, sources of negativity within teams and finally the 4 C’s that can almost change the way a team functions if adherence to them is regularly watched by HR managers and team members both.

 In general most employees can be grouped into three categories: type-A, who are extrovert and friendly but not so ingenious at work, type-B, who are introvert and suffer silently from innate complexes that they never talk about, they may or may not be too ingenious at work but generally meet deadlines and complete tasks with satisfactory performance and finally type-C, the popular ones, they are both ingenious at work and extrovert and generally become cynosures in their clique, they are often the star performers. We can choose to club a type of people who are introvert but good at their tasks under type-B for simplicity.
Type -A people generally need affable counterparts to work better, they feel team associations should stretch beyond work and find discomfort in coping with reticent colleagues who focus only on work. These people value outings, get-togethers, team brainstorming etc. over too much of focus on individual roles within a team.  Type-B people on the other hand suffer from under-confidence while speaking to others, they generally prefer division of work and tend to work alone and show up only for periodic group reviews. These people may or may not be too adept or innovative at work, but generally do not display their discontent and mingle less with other colleagues. Type-C people are the most desirable ones by far. They communicate effectively, have confidence to accentuate skills and generally display a desire to learn on the job. These people are generally more successful and hence invite jealousy from colleagues which sometimes masks their affable efforts to get associated with people from deep within. Only few of these are able to keep up in the long run.
The question here is not who’s the better type to have in your company, it is rather inevitable to handpick only Type-C people. One should focus on root causes of negativity within teams at workplaces and obliterate those causes rather than trying to sieve out people. It is natural for people to get insecure if there are outperformers and a little over confident when they do well. It is the role of team leaders, human resources managers and team members themselves to ensure that this feeling of negativity doesn’t ensue from intra-team competition. More than competition it is often dissonance between nature of people in a team that leads to coldness and hence negativity. To ensure that employees remain affable to each other and strive for collective goals, one may like to follow these 4 C’s to keep negativity at bay:
Credence: By this we mean trust-building which is a precursor to efficiency in team work. By allowing team members take some time off to understand each other well before beginning the tasks can serve the purpose. For example, if a week prior to a project’s starting date is kept aside for allowing team members to interact with each other, hang out together for a few evenings without discussing work at all can help build trust among each other.
Cross – Learning: If team leaders and HR Managers can facilitate periodic, compulsory and open discussions, there can be a lot of cross-learning. Mostly people tend to divide their work and work individually to finally collate as a team project. This practice can’t be held completely wrong however by periodic meetings, members of a team can learn from each other better. This needs monitoring to enforce meetings in time.
Confidence: HR Managers can help employees gain confidence in themselves by assuring them recognition of their efforts. For example, all team members should be allowed to individually present their share of contribution in front of all which can be then given due appreciation. This directly helps type-B people gain faith in themselves and perform better.
Congeniality: This is largely a subjective measure. There should be enough room for interactions amongst all team members that spans beyond work related discussions. No one should be encouraged to skip these informal meetings since this is where employees get to understand each other better as persons in whole and not just as colleagues. This directly leads to a better understanding in most cases and hence proficiency in work.
Thus, maintaining a positive environment at workplace is easy if communication becomes a way of professional life. Type-A,B,C all form an important part of a healthy employee profile, looking after each one’s psychological and emotional needs and facilitating mutual respect is the key to obliterate negativity even before it starts spreading. How soon are you breaking the habit – habit of ignoring the need of communication?

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