Recently, I listened to a Ted Radio Hour podcast about the meaning of work. Margaret Heffernan referenced a story about William Muir's experiment with chickens. William Muir was interested in what could make groups more effective. He found a flock of average chickens and left them alone for six generations. Muir then had another flock with individually productive members, so he bred those productive members across generations to create what he thought would be a super flock of chickens.
After six generations, he took a look at both flocks. The average flock was all very healthy and productive. Unfortunately, in the Super flock, most of the chickens died, they had pecked each other to death because they were so competitive.
So, what does this mean for teamwork? It means that while competitiveness is good individually, it does not work well in team settings. In essence, personally, the only way to be successful is to lessen the success of those around you.
How do you have productive employees who will work together in groups? According to Heffernan, social capital and team trust are the secret sauce! Trust builds over time in groups. The more trust there is in a team, the more members feel like they can be more honest. "Conflict is frequent because candor is safe."
How to Build Trust with Your Team
1. Spend time together not working. Team members need to get to know each other personally, what their habits and quirks are. Understanding each other is critical to working together in a team setting.
2. Get conflict out in the open. At Rhythm Systems, we are big proponents of No TDC (thinly disguised content), meaning we address conflict as soon as we see it. The outcome is that employees feel like they can voice their concern, say what they feel, therefore there is trust to be vulnerable.
3. Have one common team goal. As you can see from Muir's work, when team members have individual goals, it creates a lot of conflict and friction. One goal allows team members to focus their energy purely on that goal and not their personal goals.
4. Reward the team, not the individuals. Focus on team victories, rather than the stars of the team. The team will feel more connected through their victory and trust that they can rely on each other to get things done.
5. Discourage cliques. Cliques can be disastrous for teams; they break down trust between all team members. Leave cliques to the mean girls in high school, focus instead on building camaraderie between all team members.
I hope I didn't ruffle your feathers too much with this blog!
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