Biyernes, Oktubre 1, 2010

Group Think and Individualism - Included in the New Book "Managing People" of Jolito Ortizo Padilla

Managing People by Jolito Ortizo Padilla will be launched in Shangrila Hotel-Singapore on the 2nd week of November, 2010...

Group Think and Individualism----

The team is in, and individual is out. The Texan Cowboys and American frontiers men of old-many of them rugged individuals have either retired or moved to the next world. And as if following the dictates of fashion, we have put what we once prized greatly on the back-burner.

Teams achieve more than what individuals can achieve in their own. True. But there's no denying that some dysfunctional teams on the contrary, achieve less than what individual can achieve on their own. So before we exalt the virtue of teamwork to the skies, let's take a more balanced perspective, and we'll see how individualism plays a part in counter acting the excesses of team dynamics.

The danger of being too "teamy" are well documented. A good example is the Abilene Paradox, a phenomena highlighted by management expert Jerry B. Harvey. The gist of the paradox is that a group of well-meaning people, out of desire not to rock the boat, collectively decided on a course of action that was counter to the wishes of every individual in the group. Described as a form of group think by experts, the Abiline paradox is but among various factors that can cause healthy team dynamics to quickly degenerate into sentimental and irrational collectivism.

Spotting the Danger Signs

Of course, team not always fall victim to group think and the first step is to recognize the problem for what it is. Simply being aware of the characteristics and danger of group think is at times enough to catalyze a certain degree of caution which is a good start.

Some of the telltale signs of teams in the danger zone are: extreme cohesiveness, leading a disproportionate lack of dissent; highly charismatic leaders who operate more in the basis of emotions than logic, homogenuity with members coming from similar socio-economic or functional backgrounds; and reticent members showing a general lack of confidence. When one or more of three characteristics are present in a team, it is time to raise the red flag.

Counteracting Group Think

Introducing a healthy dose of individualism into a team is often beneficial and counteractive against mindless collectivism. Individualism is after all, right at the heart of economic premised upon Laissez- faire capitalism , and it would be totally incongruous to extol the virtues of capitalistic society and denigrate individualism in the same breath.

Here are some easily actionable things you can implement for your teams:

Support Individual Expertise

Teams have better chance of making decisions when members are not allowed to bring their individual perspectives and expertise to bear. Team leaders should encourage all members to speak openly without deferring to the preferences of the leader or more senior team members. If a group is intially reticent, the leader may need to address members one by one to solicit his or her ideas; in time to come, the team members will start to understand that their contribution is expected and appreciated.

Reward Individual Contribution

While it is important to reward collective effort and achievements, leaders should not gloss over outstanding contributions from individuals within the group. One of the pitfalls focusing too much on the group at the expense of the individual is that performance may drop to the lowest denomination ; nobody is willing to work harder or contribute more than the next person , since everyone gets the same reward in the end.

Demand Individual Accountability

By making team members individually accountable for their assigned responsibilities, each person will have a vested interest in fighting collective tendencies or decisions that undermine their ability to deliver results expected of them.

Create Constructive Conflict

Differences is beautiful. Disagreement often gives birth to new perspectives and novel ways of solving problems. The trick is to manage conflict and not to escalate to a point that it tears your team apart. While encouraging argument and contention, leaders must at the same time lay firm ground rules on acceptable behavior. The leader must be strong enough to eventually guide the team to a healthy concensus , while members agree to disaggree, yet proceed with the best solution available.

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