Monday, July 28, 2008

The “I” In Team

One of my current consulting client’s contracts is drawing to a close, and I am ever so thankful.

They have mastered the art of placing the “I” in “team.”

Well, they haven’t really mastered the art, what they do is refer to their “group” as opposed to their “team.”

It is an interesting distinction, and it shows how exclusivity can still occur in today’s “team” centered workplace.

When we think of a “team” we often think about sports teams – elite athletes, working together towards the same common goal – to win the game. The Toronto Blue Jays baseball team wants to do what all professional baseball teams do – win.

A group is a completely different concept – groups can oppose each other, work towards totally opposite goals and means. When we think of a “group” we often think about labour disputes or protestors. The Teamsters – despite their name – is a group, a labour union which represents the exclusive interests of it’s group members.

At this client, very rarely do I hear the word “team.” Usually when a gathering of minds is required to complete a task, it is referred to as “group.”

And let me tell you, although their may be a group of people together as one – the soci-political atmosphere is so divided, that just about everyone in that group is their own “group.”

Everyone is fending for him or herself – even when working as a collective group! None of the various groups work towards the same goal – though ultimately, they need to appear to do so.

When decisions need to be made, it is like walking into a tense labour dispute on the eleventh-hour, just before a strike vote. Everyone has their back to the wall, and everyone is tense, angry, and frustrated.

This makes it very difficult to really get anything done – because no matter how reasonable a request may be, there is always – ALWAYS – someone opposing it. A natural occurrence, when everyone is more concerned about what’s best for themselves, instead of what is best for the project, the organization, or the team.

Oh yeah – team – they don’t have any.

What’s even more disconcerting, is all of the problems within the organization stem from issues that could quickly and easily be addressed, if only they worked as a team, instead of as a group.

If they got rid of all the “I’s” – which would mean axing all the management because they create this atmosphere of anxiety – then they could bring about real, positive change.

But that’s unlikely to occur, as the group dynamic just doesn’t have any team spirit.

Go Team! Go Team! Ra-ra-ra . . . well, maybe my next client will be more team-driven, and we’ll be able to do some real work for a change!

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