Team culture, boon or bane for corporations?: Why organisations are discouraging team building

Human resource is evolving and the rules of the game have changed.

Ahmed Fuad September 04, 2011

A significant change which has been witnessed in corporations, particularly in the cellular and data industry is a strong debate on discouraging team culture.

Now this is a surprising development for many, because until now, organisations have encouraged team culture and team building, and have been reaping the benefits. They seem to have woken up to the idea that where this has benefits, it has some inherent risks as well.

The corporate sector has always invested a huge amount to develop team-culture . The productivity of employees is usually better when they work in the form of teams; especially when they have no real differences with their team mates and with the team lead.

Team leads are encouraged to develop a friendly environment within their teams. They are trained in different roles of leadership, management, coaching and emotional intelligence so that they can have an effective relationship with their team mates.

However, generally these positive results inherently carry some nasty offshoots. Although a few of the offshoots are good, yet the bad ones have an enormous impact when it comes to the interests of the organisation. For example an empowered employee is usually a more efficient employee. But at the same time an empowered employee is in a better position to make demands on his employers, or even resort to ‘blackmail’ to get his demands met. It is the realisation of these negative effects of team-building that has forced employers to come up with a ways to try and keep efficiency high, and at the same time protect their own interests.

One of these can be called ‘brain-drain’. In a brain-drain, the fertile brains keep on draining out from all departments of an organisation. And this is obviously a problem.

Organisations are not overly concerned, yet, because this does not happen all that frequently, but when it does, it definitely hurts.

The worst case scenario is where such an employee at times leaves with his entire team. It is not one-way traffic all the time, since the competitor then faces the same issues as the team tries to develop the same sort of influence and territorial advantage in its new employment as well.

This is why now a lot of organisations while aware of the benefits of team building, are also concerned about not allowing employees to settle or become too comfortable in their comfort zones.

So they have come up with some remedies, which is slowly becoming the new face of human resource management. This includes contracts which often carry severe financial penalties if the employee wishes to leave immediately for a new job. There are also stipulations that restrict the employee, or bind him from resigning before the completion of a certain time-frame.

But the most significant change is that now many organisations make sure that they shuffle their employees across various departments. The rationale given for this is that it gives all employees to develop a diverse set of skills and gives everyone an opportunity to work in different areas. While this is not given as a reason, it is a fact that this policy significantly reduces the risk of any “corporate blackmailing” by the employee.

the writer works as a training specialist in mobilink pakistan

Team building also leads to some factors that can put the management on the back-foot, such as:

•  Team-culture gives unlimited power to the teams and the individuals may start to influence other departments

•  They tend to shy away from the idea of developing their replacements, which is otherwise very fruitful. And the team members do not welcome new members from other teams.

•  An employee excels all the required expertise of his domain and thus attains a position whereat he can negotiate with the management on his own terms.

Team culture pays off as employees work to their potential which gives better results, such as:

•  Effective relationship within the teams and different departments.

•  Employees seek help and share knowledge willingly and proactively.

•  Employees become result-oriented and look down upon conventional. processes which introduce impediments in the completion of their tasks.

•  Employees enjoy working in an environment which fosters innovation.

•  Employees feel empowered and put their best efforts to improve their overall performance.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th,  2011.


Zaree Khalid | 12 years ago | Reply

well written!!! A very sensitive issue alarms most companies when they get to the other extreme of pendulum. A well formulated strategy can address it in the begining before it starts to haunt organizations. A scattered team won't contribute towards growth and over empowered can be another threat so better to use strategy of being at the cneter of pendulum. Very well written.

Faisal Zulfiqar | 12 years ago | Reply

Good article to read and a point to understand. Team building and not to build any team these both things should go side by side. I believe shyfling management is good step to stop any empowered employee to become mighty blackmailer but at the same time breaking teams in departments like: sales and customer service is not good for growth/

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