On work

Work is complex.

If you consider the complexity of human beings, it’s basically a miracle we can work together. Emotions, psychology, priorities and desires combine to form as many barriers as enablers.

goats-competition-disputeAnd for some people it just doesn’t work.

Not everyone works well in a team. Not everyone works well alone. Each and every person brings different challenges and skills. Some people like tasks to be given to them while others need puzzles to keep them interested.

Some people can lead and others just canNOT lead at all.

And this conversation hasn’t even addressed the complexities involved in cross-team communication.

Media sites and content marketers everywhere love to create content about teams. Here’s one from HBR: https://hbr.org/2010/06/get-your-team-to-stop-fighting.html

And another from higher ed (Berkeley): http://hr.berkeley.edu/hr-network/central-guide-managing-hr/managing-hr/interaction/team-building/steps

If you’ve ever worked on a bad team reading this content can be maddening or triggering. Have you been a part of a huge enterprise with tens of thousands of employees? Most of this reading sounds like a joke. You might feel powerless to change the situation as well.

What gives talented employees the energy to stay?

I have a saying I use for teams that can’t seem to function correctly:

Too big, must fail.

Do you feel like this? Comment below with your story. The best stories get a 30oz tumblr guaranteed to keep ice for 24 hours or hot drinks for 6 hours.

Because if your story is that good you either need more cocktails or more coffee or both.


2 thoughts on “On work”

  1. Many years ago at a company I will not name there was an office that wanted us to take over their support. Fred (not his real name), the head of that group, just wanted to give up the support and transfer it to our group. I was asked to go in and integrate the team. I was told the team was not one that would be considered exactly “functional”.

    The team was in another city, and the plan was for me to travel periodically to get them integrated into our processes. When I got there I found that there were two factions. The factions were divided by the loyalty to someone we’ll call Earl (not his real name). One side thought Earl was fantastic and the other side said, “Why is Earl telling me what to do? He’s not my boss. I’m not doing what he says.” To them everything Earl said was wrong. People were mad, and had no interest in working together. They were not just “unhappy” mad, they were “angry” mad – to the point where I had them all in a meeting together and it almost came to blows.

    The first week I was there, Earl happened to be on vacation, so I was not getting Earl’s side of the story, only the two different factions. I was thinking, “Yeah, why is Earl telling these people what to do, basically acting like their supervisor or team leader?”

    The next week, I went to the office again, and Earl was back from vacation. I sat down with Earl to talk through his side of the story. What I found out was intriguing. Earl told me that Fred had asked Earl to play a team leader role, direct work, etc., but Fred was not going to tell the team because he didn’t want anyone to get upset. So in short, be their supervisor, but they won’t know you are supposed to be playing that role. Leadership at its finest.

    Obviously we made a lot of changes, added a lot of transparency, and got things back on track, but what a ride! There was a lot of built up resentment that took a long time to overcome, and we lost some people on the team because of it. It just shows that bad leaders can really kill an organization.

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