And This Years Winner Is…..Teamwork

That One Day in September

Last weekend here in Melbourne it was the Grand Final of Australian Rules Football competition that involved the clash between two mighty football teams – Hawthorn and Fremantle. On the big day an audience of 100,000+ supporters sat in the famous and historical MCG stadium and cheered loudly as they encouraged their team towards victory with the goal of being the 2013 Premiers. However, only one team can be victorious and this year the winner was Hawthorn.

Prior, during and after the game, it is always interesting to observe the behaviours of the two team’s supporters. Each supporter dresses up in their football team’s club colours, waves team flags and provides “verbal encouragement” to their players, the opposition and particularly the umpires. Although the supporters have allegiance to their individual teams, after the game there is minimal malice and they depart on mass with “friendly” banter amongst their own supporters and those from the opposition team. In this instance, it could be said that the real winner was “football” as the game was a spectacular ending to yet another great football season that was enjoyed by all supporters of the game.

Let’s explore this team concept further in the corporate office. Many organizations are functionally structured into discrete work groups (marketing, sales, HR, production, etc), or business divisions, or via geography (Australia, Denmark, Japan). Over time, these groups tend to develop their own work culture and ethos that crafts and encourages certain good, and some bad behaviours. Unfortunately, this may also lead to an “us” and “them” mentality where one group tries to score points off another work group, just like in the game of football.

However, the key is for these work groups to recognise that there is one larger and more strategic team, that of the total organization. Sure, there can be a work group team credo under the direction of their General Manager (“team captain”), but only if the real winner is the overall business.

In football, it is the umpires role to keep order in the game and to administer and implement the rules to ensure an equal opportunity for all players. Taking this thought further, do we need to establish a band of independent “Behavioural Umpires (BU)” that freely roam the corporate organization calling poor intergroup teamwork with a series of Red, Yellow and Green “behaviour cards” and associated penalties?

For instance, a person given a “Yellow behavioural card” could be placed into a “behavioural sin-bin” for a day where they are forced to watch DVDs of greater teamwork effectiveness? Those awarded a “Red card” may need to spend a day working in the work group they have offended to learn about that team’s ways of “goodness”? However, the “Green card” would reward positive teamwork behaviour and could result in a financial incentive and other forms of recognition. The BU would have a special uniform, complete with a corporate branded whistle, so they are easily recognisable as they wander through the various work teams.

At the end of each financial year, the BUs could get together and have a “best and fairest” award for those employees deemed to have exhibited the optimum in teamwork excellence. There could even be a corporate dinner at a prestigious hotel to celebrate the occasion with a large and impressive trophy presented to the winner by the organization’s CEO.

So may I suggest that work teams never lose sight of the larger organization to ensure that the winner is always the one team, and not the individual!

Just a thought…..

 

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2 Comments

  1. so, a behavorial sin-bin is a toddler time-out for grown-ups then? Love it.

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    Reply
    • Yes…..and no toys such as mobile phones, iPads, Xbox, Blogs or other electronic play items are allowed so there is no distraction! Ok, I will allow Blogs!

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      Reply

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