Article (August-2018)


Demonstrating unique value

Dr. Sujaya Banerjee

Designation : -   CEO and Founder

Organization : -  Capstone People Consulting, Mumbai


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How do you define teamwork in contemporary terms?
SB Teamwork begins with being not only responsible for your part of the contribution to the team but feeling accountable for what the team accomplishes collectively. At the bottom in early roles this involves developing and demonstrating collaborative behaviours - as preferred co-worker. It's important the team believes in and enjoys working with you. At next levels it's about demonstrating the unique value that you bring to the team and being respectful of each other besides having the ability to leverage team synergies to accomplish the task on hand. In contemporary teams a lot of this needs to be accomplished virtually which can be a challenge.
What do you think - Is team building/teamwork an art or a science? Do you have ever thought over the chemistry and mathematics of teamwork (please share 
with an anecdote)?
SB Teamwork is both an Art and a Science. The art of influencing and managing across individuals, their aspirations, motivations, expertise and the science of bringing in individual productivity to create new milestones of performance and success. I remember a time we worked across teams to deliver a complex HR technology platform and managed to get everyone involved, engaged and contributing effectively. It was great to see people rise above their silos to let the company win. It was amazing to see the stretch performances. The different kinds of expertise on display and the fervour to achieve the task and set new benchmarks of performance!
What does it really mean to be a team player, in times when virtual teams and robots are taking over the workplace where technology neutralizes the chemistry of teamwork?
SB Demonstrating team spirit involves believing in and committing to the job on hand. Operating with trust, respect and equality is key! In today's age of Robots and other forms of technology taking on mundane parts of the job, it's important to partner with the technology seamlessly to give the customer a seamless experience. Being part of and contributing in virtual teams require an even greater effort to understand, be understood and accept those from diverse backgrounds who support/enable them where required to deliver high performance.
Do you believe that apart from popular traits of an effective team and team workers, something more is required in changing fast-paced business environment? What should be that "something"?
SB An effective team is one that is able to understand the task on hand, allocate work basis strengths, leverage team strengths and synergies and handle/manage conflict and disagreement constructively to ensure excellence is not compromised. Ensuringno group think, collective biases, groupism, clique formations and ensuring great team performances is key. Delivering complex assignments without blood on the floor is an art.
Team members must be experts in their own areas and must not compromise or settle unless they provide their best solutions to the organization. A great team player is one who understands that WE is better than ME and leverages the best from each team member - Always!!
What are some of the myths behind effective teams and team workers?
SB One common myth on effective team and team workers is that the teams are as good as the members in the team. That's not true if the team is not able to leverage individual strengths. The second myth is that an all star team will be an all-star team? Not necessarily if the team members don't get along and erode the collective possibilities. The third myth is that all like or enjoy working in teams as there will be lesser work or pressure on all - not true! It's not uncommon for a few to deliver everything in dysfunctional teams! The fourth myth is that if all pull their weight in a team, the team will necessarily succeed - not true! There could be other variables that impact team performance and many times it's got to do with the dynamics associated with the leader.
What is the role of HR in accelerating chemistry for teamwork?
SB HR's job begins with influencing hiring teams to watch for collaboration skills/team orientation at the time of hiring. Individual stars or those with clear Interpersonal challenges are never going to have the maturity to be good team players or leaders. HR's job is to perhaps accentuate on collaboration as a value at each touch point - Hire, Promote, Reward, Recognize desirable team behaviours and good team players.
And finally, collaboration is best demonstrated by the leadership team which acts as role model for team work. If it's a real organizational value, it shines through with how the top leadership behaves with each other, with how the businesses synergize to enhance the value creation journey - also the camaraderie, respect and trust demonstrated by the leadership as a team are key for others to emulate team work effectively!