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CorporateTheatre

The Question of ‘Trust’

Trust-building is one of the most common activities conducted for strengthening teams and integrating them when taking on new and challenging performance objectives.  As part of this initiative, teams are taken out for trekking, rock climbing, raft building, and other such adventurous exercises where there is an element of challenge and risk, and where survival, safety, or fun depend on supporting and collaborating with each other.  After a couple of days of such adventure, the teams get back to the workplace and once again things back to what they were before – the so-called ‘rat race’.  HR and everyone else is left wondering what the outbound activity actually achieved.

From my experience of having worked with hundreds of teams across industry, culture, and hierarchy, I have some insight into where the problem lies.  In the trust-building activity, safety and survival actually depend on collaborating within the same team while competing with other teams.  The whole team has to reach the top of that hill or peak together.  Only then can they win.  The task is completed only when the last man has reached the top, or the other shore.  In rock climbing and mountain climbing the best and most experienced climbers go first and bring up the rear, and the weaker climbers are placed in the middle.

Now imagine that the task was redefined as below:

The team size, let’s say is 20 people.  The performance target for this exercise is to reach the top of that peak.  The first person who reaches the top will get a special and very substantial reward amounting to 30% of the reward amount.  The next 5 who reach will share the next 40%.  The next 4 will share 20 %.  The next 6 will share 10%.  The last 4 get no rewards.  The last 2 people are also liable to be sacked.

Though the above scenario may be an exaggeration, very often corporate tasks, corporate appraisals, and corporate rewards are defined in this way and everyone is left wondering why there is no trust in the team and no collaboration.  We wonder why people are getting stressed.

As experienced in the “CorporateTheatre” workshops, competition between teams can raise people beyond comfort zones and perceived competence zones.  Competition within the same team destroys the team and blocks collaboration, communication, and trust.  It is also important to club together all interdependent functions responsible for a common goal, as one team.  If functions within a team are defined, appraised, and rewarded as teams – marketing team, sales team, admin team, finance team, technical team, service team – it creates more of functional loyalty, distorts goal perceptions, and undermines the performance of the team as a whole.

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Trust – The Flipkart Story

 

Gaurav Dalmia’s article on the Flipkart story in The Times of India dated 15th May 2018 makes a pertinent statement.  I quote:

“Flipkart’s heady growth would not have happened if managers were not empowered to take decisions.  It was a two-way trust.  For the company, it was faith in its army of techies and marketeers that they could deliver in the high stakes game.  For managers, it was the confidence that wrong decisions – inevitable in any business – would not be held against them personally.  Political commentator Francis Fukuyama’s pioneering study on culture shows that prosperous countries tend to be those where business relations between people can be conducted informally and flexibly, on the basis of trust.”  Read More…

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The 6th DYSFUNCTION of a Team – Fear of Being Blamed for Failure

In his fascinating and insightful book, The FIVE DYSFUNCTIONS of a TEAM, (Jossey-Bass), Patrick Lencioni lists the 5 Dysfunctions as:

Absence of Trust – resulting in Invulnerability

Fear of Conflict – resulting in Artificial Harmony

Lack of Commitment – resulting in Ambiguity

Avoidance of Accountability – resulting in Low Standards, and

Inattention to Results – resulting in focus on Status and Ego

These resonate almost exactly with what is experienced and demonstrated by participants in the “CorporateTheatre” workshops.  Read More…

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The Disruptive Power of Competition WITHIN the Team!

Here is another very interesting article – ‘Management Musings’, Corporate Dossier, Economic Times, 12th June 2015 – that talks about the disruptive impact of competition within the team.  This insight has been consistently experienced and shared in “CorporateTheatre” workshops for over 15 years. Read More…

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