DG Consulting

Leaders Bond, Not Bind

Whether among friends or family, at work, or between nations, team spirit is an essential part of cooperation. What are the ways in which to achieve it in an office setting?

Build a cohesive team:

Sounds simple? The difficulty is precisely in that apparent simplicity. We often select efficient workers with similar experiences, put them together and expect smooth sailing. Conveniently enough we ride roughshod over their attitude towards work. Ultimately this very fact that we tend to ignore begins to call the shots. More than knowledge and skill, attitudes play a vital role in determining group dynamics.

Leena worked as an associate editor. When Edward, her colleague quit the job, she approached the Chief Editor. “”I’ve got the perfect person to fill the job,” she said. “My friend Eunice and I used to work together before I came here. She is good and is looking for a change of scene.” The Chief Editor, Ram, agreed to interview Eunice along with other candidates. After several interviews Ram was convinced that Eunice was the right candidate. Leena was thrilled. We’ll be a great team, she told Eunice.

But while Leena and Eunice had worked together some years back, much water had passed under the bridge since then. Later, they had worked for different publications. Their work styles were less than compatible. Leena tended to be cautious while Eunice was more of a risk-taker. This created problems. Instead of learning from each other, Leena and Eunice let friction develop to the point that after a month they weren’t on speaking terms. Work flow was beginning to slip. Phone messages got lost or garbled. Ram began to receive angry calls from advertisers. Checking ads was the responsibility of associate editors. Now Ram had to review his recruitment policies and team building techniques.

Does this situation sound familiar to you? Remember, the trick is not just in selecting talented people but in creating the required work culture. To make this possible, you must:

  • Mould a cohesive work group.
  • Inspire enthusiasm among subordinates
  •  Budget time to allow for sufficient direct contact with subordinates.
  •  Hold regular briefing sessions.
  • Understand the work attitudes of different employees.
  •  Use a scientific approach to solve interpersonal problems (observe, analyze, evaluate decide, implement, follow up).

If Making Decisions is Tough, Changing them is Even Tougher

When confronted with a problem you should be able to act on your own even when others are hesitant to do so. Using good judgment in difficult situations along with the ability to take risks are the hallmarks of decision-making capabilities. The irony is that no one wants to risk changing an already made decision even if there is a risk in not changing it. However, it is perfectly fine to change your mind and decision under certain circumstances. Ask yourself, “Did I have all the facts before the decision was made, or has new information been given to me?” If the answers are No and Yes, in that order, you are definitely justified in changing your mind.

Thomas had recommended a raise for Karan on the basis of performance appraisals given by his predecessor, Salim. Later, on interacting more closely with Karan’s immediate supervisor, he noted certain skill deficiencies and rated his performance as substandard.

  • Create the right work culture.
  •  Mould a cohesive work group.
  • Inspire enthusiasm among subordinates.
  • Make time to allow for sufficient direct contact with subordinates.
  •  Have regular briefing sessions.
  •  Understand the work attitudes of different employees.
  •  Develop a scientific approach to solve interpersonal problems (observe, analyze, evaluate, decide, implement, follow-up).

Don’t forget the fact that the more competent the people you hire, the more individualistic they will be.  To draw the line between individualism and pluralism is not a pleasant job, but remember it is in your lot.

Salim confessed that he had never taken time to discuss Karan’s performance with his immediate supervisors. Thomas decided that he would withdraw the recommendations made for Karan and that he would talk to him and establish a formal plan to help him succeed at this job. Thomas, to his credit, did not let the “what-will-others-say” syndrome” interfere with his action.

To be fair to ourselves, to our organization and the general work climate, is it not it necessary to do so?

Remember that you must:

  • Not rush into decisions but set a time frame for taking each decision.
  •  List and collect all the information needed systematically.
  •  Follow up on work assignments given to others to be able to take correct decisions.
  •  Take action when you observe errors –whether it is your decision or that of others.
  • Be enthusiastic in carrying out the changes in your decision, the moment you are convinced of their need.
  • Never forget the fact that you have to draw the line between consistency and rigidity; between being flexible and being wishy-washy.

Strike at the Root of Penury in Thy Heart: Empowerment vs. Assignment

Empower your subordinates. Don’t feel threatened of losing control over the scheme of things. Only if you empower others, can you stretch your sights to distant dreams. Empowering the employees is not the same as assigning responsibilities.
When Gupta asked Paul to arrange a staff picnic to Esselworld for a day, and allotted budgetary provisions, he gave him little scope for creativity, innovation or satisfaction. When Mishra, on the other hand, requested Paul to explore the employee morale of the firm and give his recommendations, he empowered him.
Wouldn’t you rather have your employees ‘grow’to meet your needs’ rather than ‘size them down to your requirements’?

For proper empowering you have to:

  • Select and employ qualified employees in key posts.
  •  Involve them in the decision making process.
  • Define short-term goals and establish priorities clearly and candidly.

Never forget the fact that empowerment is giving someone the opportunity to express himself, the opportunity for job enlargement and job enrichment. Empowerment lets the employee suggest, experiment, explore, decide. He learns to rise to the need of the hour. When you assign a job to an employee you limit, control, dictate and define his contribution. He shrinks to fit into your expectations. Draw the line between empowering and assigning an employee very clearly on the basis of your judgment regarding whom and when.