Sunday, January 4, 2009

TEAMS - Rah, Rah or Bah-Humbug?

Mary Engelbreitt

Teams are highly over-rated and mostly dysfunctional, at least from my experience in the academic and work world. Unlike friendships which are tried and true--you audition friends and keep the ones who fit--teams are cobbled together sometimes for an express purpose and sometimes because managing by teams has been trendy in the work world for a decade or so.

The only teams that work have:
  • a clear vision
  • defined goals
  • commitment to the vision and goals
  • concrete and doable deadlines
  • a leader who can effectively articulate and successfully communicate the above to the team members.

There also needs to be coaching, accountability, and recognition of contributions. Team members have to respect their leader and each other, and be willing to confront and be confronted when misunderstandings or negligence occurs.

Is it possible to get all of this together in the workplace today? Probably not. While there are more leadership manuals and seminars available than ever, leadership egos are large and we all know what happens when someone gets a taste for power and renown.

It's been clear to me for some time that the reason our work worlds are so dysfunctional is that the world is dysfunctional--our homes and families, relationships, churches... How can a workplace be functional when it is populated by people carrying all that baggage?

While the term dysfunctional was popularized in the 1980s, it is true that we had it even before we had the language to describe it. Yet, I believe that as our culture has become more aware of being politically correct our dysfunction has increased. No one takes responsibility. We are quick to blame and to sue and to excuse and accuse. And, as the media has learned to prey upon mis-spoken words and to hype empty-headed attention seekers [SUPER-star, SUPER-model, ROCK-star, etc.], we have come to value fame and celebrity over intelligence, humanity, honor, grace, wisdom, truth, righteousness, forgiveness, courtesy, and civility.

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