In a program we ran with top executives of a multi-billion dollar company, the CEO asked us – “Why don’t we have this much fun at work?” So we asked back “What are you doing at work that is destroying teamwork?” This is he and his team said:
- Create unreasonable time constraints. Be sure to overwhelm team members with impossible deadlines so the reality of their already heavy, burdensome workloads doesn’t allow them to be creative and passionate on anything new. This forces them to deliver subpar work—they’ll hate you and the company for it.
- Insult innovation and discourage mistakes. Mock and ridicule your colleagues when they try new things and they don’t work. This generates a culture of fear, which cripples productivity and innovation.
- Don’t involve the team until the last minute. Approach people for help when a project is already half done or when it has run into problems. This partial involvement will generate low levels of ownership and quash any possible enthusiasm.
- Don’t define who does what. Your people are guaranteed to have power struggles and reduced productivity. And while you are at it keep individual goals and overlaps a secret. That will surely increase conflict and kill collaboration.
- Let corporate politics get in the way of progress. Don’t encourage colleagues to speak their mind, give rationale feedback or address conflicts. Make everyone walk on eggshells.
- Establish roadblocks to virtual collaboration. Send as many emails as you possibly can. Avoid phone calls and face-to-face meetings. This will make sure people misinterpret other people’s reactions, don’t form strong bonds with colleagues, and don’t feel any urgency to apply their full focus and energy to the project.
- Send mixed messages about the team priorities. Why bother getting the team focused? Instead, direct focus on individual success at the expense of the team.
- Don’t motivate with rewards and recognition. Who wants a crummy old bonus when they could instead receive a cold shoulder and a distant stare? Do any employees find the rewards attractive? Get rid of them—incentives will just make your employees get soft and lose their competitive edge. Better yet—discontinue any systems that are in place for recognizing individual and team accomplishments. And by all means, quit rewarding behaviors and achievements that are in line with the team’s goals.
- Don’t trust our colleagues. Remember, familiarity breeds contempt. Why trust your colleagues when you know they’re only out for themselves? Never, ever relax in the workplace. -Lawrence Polsky
Which one(s) of these does your team do?
One alone is enough to cripple your team. Combine them and you destroy your team. Unfortunately, while these attitudes and approaches might seem ridiculous and extreme, we run into them all the time. They create miserable workplaces and demolish productivity. So simply do the opposite. You will create a pumped up, focused, enthusiastic team able to take on the world!