Home Life Lessons Work independently, strike unitedly

As young men and women graduate from engineering and technology schools, they land up facing one or the other campus placement interviews every other day. They suddenly realise that degrees hardly matter. Marks and medals are of little help. Quite unfortunately, even more than their grasp of the subject, what matters more is the soft skills they possess.

Soft skills range from the ability to communicate, contribute to the overall well-being of the team and even building a team. Companies look for managerial skills. In the age of liberalisation, business acumen defines one’s employability. Companies are growing. Corporates are consolidating. Mergers and acquisitions widen the frontiers of business. Thus, small is no longer beautiful. Big is bountiful. Big organisations function and flourish in an organisational culture defined by excellent team work. Simply put, T.E.A.M = Together.

Everyone Achieves More. The man, who conquered the world, also acknowledges the beauty of team work. Alexander the Great said, “Remember: upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.” Both members and leaders alike should understand the commandments of team work and go about them in letter and spirit. The feeling of invincibility is an anathema to team work. The most accomplished often suffer from greater dose of this indispensability syndrome.

But, all of us, at certain moments in our lives, need to take advice and receive help from our peers. We are most effective as a team when we complement each other without causing any mutual embarrassment. Conflicting views can build strong organisations. Organisational leaders should learn to respect divergent opinions, perceptions and give autonomy to others so that they can innovate without fear. Wisdom does not flow from the leader alone.

The foundation of team building is for a leader to promote the feeling that a member is unique and can add invaluable substance. However, as the individual uniqueness increases and enriches the organisation, it also gives to moments of conflict. Effective team building demands accommodating individual interests and addressing conflicts in right earnest. Quite often, efficient individuals focus their energies on personal accomplishments rather than organisational achievement.

This contradiction may give instant benefits to the individuals. But, successful individuals in unsuccessful organisations cannot, in reality, achieve much. Andrew Carnegie, a self-made steel tycoon and one of the wealthiest 19th century businessmen from the US, opined “Teamwork is the ability to work together towards a common vision; the ability to direct individual accomplishment towards organisational objectives.

It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” The hierarchal approach to organisational management is confining discussion to the top layer of the leadership. But, a participatory culture would enhance the accountability of everyone in the system.

A good manager is the one, who can identify individual strengths and weaknesses. Allocating the right work to the right person is key to human resources management. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A good team harnesses’ the energy of everyone to optimise the potential. A bad team achieves synergy between the inefficient to maximise the weaknesses.

There is often resistance in people for change. Infectious teams can overcome this. Leadership means transmitting this infectious enthusiasm. Open communication and transparent decision making is yet another attribute of successful organisations. Formal and informal dialogue need to be encouraged. Bring the conflicting views to the discussion.

Organisational success greatly depends on their ability to overcome rigid segregation and artificial walls within the structure. Leveraging human potential is the barometer for team building. Work culture has the potential to either be an asset or the liability of any organisation.

An efficient work culture is one, which motivates everyone to unravel their full potential. All impediments to performance have to be dismantled. Work culture can be defined as the sum total of behaviours, thoughts, feelings, values, and mindsets that people in an organisation share.

MIT Professor Edgar Schein writes, “The work culture manifests itself in the way people look at things and talk to each other; in the way they complement and criticise one another…” closing the gap between and dismantling the barriers that separate individual members of the team determines the success potential of the team or organisation.

Young men and women aspiring to embrace a corporate career should master the art and science of growing up in an organisation, which can be accomplished by unleashing one’s innate potential for a cumulative turn out. As a philosopher said, “Work independently, strike united.”

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