I still remember one of my childhood teachers saying “Go home, hold your pen tight and change the world.” Yes indeed there was a time 50 or maybe 100 years ago when great works were done by individuals alone, in their labs and workshops. But the days when just taking a hold on the table could make you change the world are gone. The larger parts of the remarkable work being completed these days are done in groups. Now is the time to divide and rule.
I have been fortunate enough to be a part of some extraordinary teams. I have represented my University in various technical and non technical events across India. I have worked in one of the most prestigious technical institution in India as an intern. What I have seen is that most teams are a hit (if properly managed) when they start, it goes pretty well for some time, even better. And then, something happens. Something really bad. And I am damn sure most of us have experienced similar patterns.
Certainly, blaming the manager or leader of the team is not a good reason, since mostly those teams were not a failure in the beginning. Individual team members cannot be blamed, as by definition, team members are supposed to counter interact the negative aspects of one another. Who accounts for this failure? How this failure can be prevented?
What I think ruins the team is the development of competition between individual team members to such an extent that they start sacrificing the goals of their team on account of their self-interest.
Here comes the point. “Competition among team members”.
You might be wondering that providing a competitive environment serves, as it can be used to boost efficiency, that it has been this way for long and it’s a fact proven correct again and again and again.
But seriously?? Taking things for granted every time just because they worked well earlier is not a sign of wisdom. What I believe is that beyond a threshold point, competition among team members destroys harmony, compassion, joint effort, association type feelings among team members. Individuals start feeling insecure and in fact, we humans are designed this way that we start protecting ourselves for the sake of the people whom we love, whom we care, in this case by losing above mentioned skills. These insecurities are the main reason leading to communication gap, lack of vision, poor dynamics, incorrect analysis, or whatever tons of crap people used to call it.
I close by saying that developing a competitive environment is indeed a necessary step in bringing out the best of a team, but close observation of the team, on its responses to circumstances is basically an unquestionable need for the group pioneer with a specific end goal to make his group succeed.
May your team succeed.