Article (August-2018)


Openness is the key

Neeraj Sharma

Designation : -   Senior Director-Human Resources

Organization : -  Fourkites India P. Ltd., Chennai


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How do you define teamwork in contemporary terms and what do you think - Is team building/team work an art or a science? Do you (in your organisation) have ever thought over the chemistry and mathematics of team work (please share with an anecdote)?
NS We are better together. Teamwork is both art and science. The chemistry sees that when one team member moves into a different role or exits from the existing team, the other team members rush-in to take over to fill in the responsibilities or deliverables of the outgoing team member thereby not letting a vacuum disrupt the deliverables of the team. The mathematics in this scenario is the quick knowledge grasping that is required by the incoming associate of the outgoing member and be able to demonstrate skills demanded by the role.
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?
NS Virtual teams and robots are primarily engaged in quality of work that is slightly lower in demand of intellectual capabilities and more repeatable by process. The opportunity for higher intellectual capabilities like decision making, collaboration, association, initiative taking and critical thinking, etc. where the demands of being a team player outweighs the odds of virtual teams and robots.
Do you believe that apart from popular traits of effective team and team workers, something more is required in changing fast paced business environment? What should be that "something"?
NS Open mindedness is the key to building highly adaptable teams. Open to unlearn, open to accepting diverse co-workers and collaborators, open to ideas and newer ways of working are a key differentiator to get ahead of competition in today's every fast paced changing business environment.
We achieve results through our collective efforts. We readily share knowledge, experiences, resources and opportunities.
What are some of the myths behind effective teams and team workers?
NS Teams are always self-directed - Teams are not automatically self-directed. Teams are given their orders and have a defined purpose for a short amount of time. They have a task, they are given the parameters, and they get to work - with a specific expected outcome.
Every team decision requires a consensus - Most of the time, someone in a group will not be happy with a particular decision, but that person still has a responsibility to support the team and respect the leadership.
Work teams always produce error - free work - Great teams focus on what went wrong, not who messed up, and quickly move beyond the past to focus on the future. You cannot change the past; you can only alter your course for the future.
Conflict isn't always negative - Research shows that conflict in a group (when well managed and focused on the work itself) can drive a team to generate more creative solutions than a conflict free team.
You don't need to 'Shake it up' The longer teams stay together the better they play together.
Take the traditional route - Face to face team meetings are more productive than those held remotely. It may seem more costly but teams who meet face to face are far more productive.
It Isn't that easy; Studies have shown that the collective intelligence of a group has nothing to do with individual intelligence. A good team needs a leader, a clear statement of what needs to be accomplished and access to all the materials and resources needed to accomplish the task. There is also some research that suggests that teams with more diversity function better, just something to think about.
Rules are the enemy of creativity - Actually, we're usually more creative when forced to think inside the box. "One of the biggest mistakes that leaders of new teams make is that they say something like, 'our rule is that we have no rules" It's far better to take the time to formally lay out the goal of the team, each person's responsibilities, and basic ground rules for how the team will operate at the beginning of a project. Teams are Always Self Directed.
Bigger the Team, Better the performance - Excessive size could be an impediment to effective collaboration. Smaller teams are more efficient & manageable.
What is the role of HR in accelerating chemistry for teamwork? 
NS 1. Encourage small team sizes.
2. Encourage diversity in teams.
3. Encourage a sense of group identity.
4. Provide a feeling of social support.
5. Recognize team consistency.