Article: The Counsellor: Why don't people work as a team?

Life @ Work

The Counsellor: Why don't people work as a team?

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The Counsellor: Why don't people work as a team?

I have recently joined the HR team of a mid-sized pharmaceutical company as a senior manager. I have worked here for about 6 months now. What I have realized is that while the team has intelligent, creative and motivated people, they are not able to work as a team and as a result, productivity is suffering. While there is a lot of potential, the outcome is not as impressive and that is a concern. How do I identify the reasons behind this and help the team overcome the dysfunction?

You have stated that the individuals working in the team are intelligent, creative and are motivated, however they don’t work as a team. I believe intelligence, creativity and motivation is a good beginning. For a team to function effectively, you need multiple things illustrated below:

• A strong leader who enjoys respect from the members.
• Common team goals, vision, mission etc.
• Well-defined roles and responsibilities with clear identification of the opportunities, and the areas where the needs for collaboration is essential.
• Robust review of the team performance as per a well-defined time table.
• A well-articulated integration model that shows how team members are interdependent and the achievements of team goals is a function of individuals achieving their own personal goals.
• Existence of multiple forums, wherein the members of the team have to work together, for example, cross functional assignments, common goals to pursue, common celebration and recognition events, cross functional process improvement activities, common training and development events, forums to share knowledge, showcase best practices, picnics, etc.
• Existence of a culture that encourages and supports cross functional collaboration and rewards people for being team players.
• Some team goals and behaviors that lead to common rewards.
• Regular job rotations
To understand the reasons for non-existence of team work, you should look at all these aspects. The team leader has to take ownership for building the team and start exhibiting the role modeling behaviors and encourage others to become role models.

Vivek is a Senior HR professional with over 35 years of experience, ranging several leadership positions, in India and abroad. He leads his consulting practice since 2003 and presently works as a Strategic HR Advisor to Reliance Industries, and is also an independent Director on the Board of Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd. Prior to this, he was based at Singapore for several years where he was Director HR - Operations at Hewlett Packard for the Asia Pacific Region. Allow Vivek to clear your career and professional dilemmas by writing to us at  

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