No Man Is An Island

When it comes to discussing or studying factors and dynamics affecting team building in a corporate context, we come across many models and theories, most of which may be very effective in their own right as they are either based on research, personal experiences, or observations of the one who presents them.

Similarly, I had been toying with an idea of putting my thoughts together, based on my own learning on team building. And when I finally decided to write on it, the idea itself gave me an opportunity to review my own learning, spreading over a decade long time period, and consolidating it in a manner which not only gives me a lesson but is also beneficial for others who read it.

Before we move on to discuss key factors being presented by me in forming an effective team, we need to stress upon the fact that that “no man is an Island” i.e. it’s good to be self sufficient and resourceful for one’s own benefit however, self sufficiency ought not to lead anyone towards any mind frame which neglects the importance of “dependencies” which should not only be acknowledged, but should be part of your work planning. Be it a skill or technical/intellectual input, when we work in a corporate set-up, we tend to be dependent on others either by virtue of the roles and responsibilities given to us OR demanded by any organizational structure or process to be carried out. No organization can afford to have individuals, teams or departments working in silos.

Once we have understood that “no man is an Island”, it indicates that we have accepted our own limitations. This means we have also acknowledged others’ opinions/inputs/professional competencies. It makes everyone’s life easier and helps in creating a good team culture.

Now we shall discuss what the key factors which can possibly make an ordinary team an effective team are. They are as follows:

1. Communication

2. Involvement

3. Inculcation of job ownership

Timely and effective communication not only conveys key messages, it also addresses all those concerns and queries which if left unaddressed may lead towards having disturbed team dynamics such as undesired performance, embittered relationships etc. Communication is what makes people understand needs to be done or what is expected to be done. Communication is the backbone of any hierarchical structure within an organization. If the communication flows through the branches of hierarchy effectively, the organization is more likely to have ‘well glued’ teams thanks to the clarity of communication with regard to each aspect of the job to be done, as well as the very clarity with regard to each role that exists within a team.

The second most important factor in assembling effective teams is the involvement of all team members. While delegating the tasks, do not blindly tell team members what they are expected to do. Show them the bigger picture and the importance of their respective roles in any given project/assignment, and the value their roles are likely to create in completion of those tasks/assignments. Their complete involvement will bring the best out of them, and they will be willing to help others as true team members, keeping end results in mind i.e. success. If we can’t spell out what we want and clarify the success it brings, how can we expect our team members to buy-in? By the way, if the team members aren’t buying in, then they are buying out. The symptoms of buying out show up in casual work and inconsistent performance, and most alarmingly, it may result into mistrust.

The third factor, which I present to you, is inculcation of ownership. If we are able to inculcate this particular habit in our team members, it means we are making a concerted effort to ensure that each team member is aware of his responsibilities as well as of associated accountabilities. Job ownership is an attitude of excellence not just once but whenever a job is to be carried out. No matter how big or small scope or scale it may be, it has to be delivered with a certain level of excellence which over a period of time should become one’s trademark as an individual or as a team. It may sound simple, but simple does not mean easy. If one is able to own his/her work, actions, decisions and most importantly consequences, he is likely to be a great team member and his contribution will be as positive as we can expect, and will be to the fullest. This is about the individuals in your team who have what it takes but are watching from the sidelines. Therefore, please do not make “job ownership” a silent expectation. In my opinion, team members who do not make a commitment are acting in this way because the company culture hasn’t made the same commitment.

If you review all three factors which I have presented briefly for effective team building, you will notice that all these factors are inter-dependant. They too cannot work without each other. For instance, how will you inculcate ownership in your team? You, as a company, or as a manager will need to step-up to job ownership by defining it in writing, and communicating what it is, summoning team members’ involvement and leading them towards becoming an effective team.

In the end, we can easily conclude that “NO MAN IS AN ISLAND“.

M. Ali Yaqoob is an HR professional having 12 plus years of work experience in the field of HR/OD.. Presently, He is working with a lubricant manufacturing company in UAE with major assignments at hand to build capacity of sales and production team. His specialized areas are Recruitment & Selection, OD, Training & Development and HR Operations.

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