Most managers are aware that employees at all levels are the company’s most precious resource – yet also the most complex. Every day, when we come to work, we bring many things with us which have no relevance to the work we are about to do. Yet they will influence the quality of the work and the contribution we offer the greater whole.
Any encounter with another human being, whether it is in a private or a professional context, brings everything that we are and everything that we have to offer into play. Our values, attitudes, emotions and experiences affect the relationship at various, often unconscious, levels. This is a challenge, often a major challenge. When working with leadership and developing teams, the art is to cultivate the conditions in order to bring out the best skills. When we succeed in making employees work together towards common goals and in a common spirit, a lot of energy is generated, which in turn makes it possible to achieve great results.
2+2 must add up to more than 4
In our daily work, we meet numerous dysfunctional groups and teams which do not achieve this level of synergy. Occasionally, a group will actually achieve a negative synergy, accomplishing less than would have been possible individually. The expectation that people will automatically and naturally cooperate is mistaken. When a team is formed, the first emotion that occurs among its members is typically fear. Fear of failing in the group. Only when this fear has been mitigated by concrete plans for the purpose of the collaboration and a better understanding of each other, the team members begin to look for opportunities. We can only experience positive recognition from people who truly see us and form an opinion about who we are. The experience that another person is interested in who we are stimulates us and gives us energy. Mutual recognition makes people whose purpose it is to succeed in workplace relationships rise to the pinnacle, regardless of the concrete assignment.
We simply have to practise collaboration as a discipline within a specific framework in order to exploit the team’s full potential and ensure that we utilise all the team members’ competences most optimally.
The task is not difficult. It does not require a special psychological insight or great empathic abilities in order for each member of the group to contribute to making the collaboration creative and constructive. But it does require a clear understanding and recognition of the importance. Using simple tools and a few days of work, one can easily identify how a group of people can work constructively together. Instead of feeling intimidated or scared by what we do not understand about each other, we can learn to utilise our differences in order to strengthen the group’s overall performance. And when we succeed in making each other better, the feeling of 2+2 adding up to more than 4 arises.