Lack of teamwork and co-operation is one of the
most serious problems affecting progress in all areas of India and wherever Indians work
worldwide. The key problem in India is always implementation, not lack of policies. We
have great policies and ideas about how to do things, but severely lacking teamwork.
When the Japanese came to work in India
to develop the Maruti Suzuki car, a joke went around that
one Indian was equal to 10 Japanese: Indians were very
smart, capable and dedicated individuals. But 10 Indians
were equal to 1 Japanese: Indians lacked team spirit and
What makes matters even worse is our
"crab" mentality if someone is trying
to climb higher and achieve more, the others just drag
him down. The signal that the others send out is, "
I wouldnt do it; I wouldnt let you do it;
and if by change you start succeeding, we will all gang
up and make sure that you dont get to do it."
question is: Where does this attitude come from, and how
do we recognize and handle it?
Part of the problem is our cultural background.
Weve had feudal and a hierarchical social system
in which whoever is senior supposedly knows best. This
was fine in earlier times when knowledge and wisdom were
passed on orally; but in modern society, there is no way
that one person can know everything. Today, you may find
that a young computer-trained person has more answers
for an accounting problem than a senior accountant has.
Until we understand how best to leverage this diversity
of experience, we will not be able to create and fully
utilize the right kind of teams.
In my younger days in the US, I attended
an executive seminar for Rockwell International, where
about 25 senior company executives had congregated for
a week for strategic discussion. In the evenings, we would
break out into five different groups of five people each.
In those group workshops, someone would delegate tasks,
saying: " You make coffee; you take notes; you are
the chairman; and you clean the board" ;. The next
day, there would be different duties for each group member.
No one ever said, " But I made coffee twice or I
cleaned the board entire day". I thought to myself,
if this were happening in India, people would be saying,
" But Im the senior
secretary why should I make the coffee and you
be the chairman?" Hierarchy
comes naturally to our minds.
Derails a Team?
Group work requires a thorough understanding of the strengths and
weaknesses of individuals irrespective of their hierarchy. Because of our background, we
often dont learn how to exercise and accept leadership- to lead and to follow
simultaneously. Some gravitate toward exercising leadership, and others gravitate toward
accepting the lead of others. But in true teamwork, everyone needs to do both.
a good team player implies respect for others, tolerance
of different points of view and willingness to give. The
ability to resolve conflicts without either egotism or
sycophancy is a very important aspect of being a team
have to agree to disagree. I find that people in India
somehow tend to focus on achieving total agreement, which
is almost always impossible. So before work begins people
want everyone to agree on everything instead they should
say OK. This is what we agree on, so lets start
working on this. What we dont agree on, we will
resolve as we go along". For things to move forward,
its important to work on the agreed-upon aspects
and not get bogged down in the areas of disagreement.
Yet another snake that kills teamwork is peoples
political agendas. Youve got to be open, clear and
honest to be a good team player. Most people though, have
a hidden agenda they say something but mean the
exact opposite. I call it "split-level consciousness".
say and mean the same thing is a very critical part of
a good work ethic.
the individual or the idea?
Sam was working in C-DOT (400 employee size company),
If someone had not been doing well, Sam used to tell the
person directly to his face in a general meeting. The
employees said that was insulting and they should be pulled
aside individually to be told of the inefficiency. But
in today's world, you cannot afford to do that every time.
Besides, Sam figured that criticizing someone in a meeting
was for the benefit of all present, and everyone could
learn from that individual's mistakes. It was then that
Sam learned how Indians
do not differentiate between criticizing an idea and criticizing
in a group, if you tell someone that his idea is no good,
he automatically takes it personally and assumes that
you are criticizing him. No one can have a good idea everyday
on every issue. If
you disagree with my idea, that does not mean that you
have found fault with me as a person.
Thus, it is perfectly acceptable
for anyone to criticize the boss - but this concept is
not a part of the Indian System. So from time to time,
it is important for an organization's Chief Executive
to get a report on the psychological health of the firm.
How do people in the team feel? Are they stable? Confident?
Secure? Comfortable? These are the key elements of a team's
success. For a boss to be comfortable accepting criticism
from subordinates, he must feel good about himself.
is a key prerequisite to such a system being successful.
Mental Vs. Physical
Another serious problem facing India is the
dichotomy and difference in respectability between physical and mental workers, which
seriously affects team performance.
Mr. Sam had a driver named Ram, who he thought was one of the best
drivers in the world. He used to open the door for him whenever he entered or exited the
car. Right in the first few days Sam told him " Ram bhai, you are not going to open
the door for me. You can do that If I lose my hands". Ram almost started crying. He
said, " Sir, what are you saying? This is my job!" Sam told him that I didn't
want to treat him like a mere driver. He had to become a team player. Sam told him that
whenever he was not driving, he should come into office and help out with office work -
make copies, file papers, send faxes, answer phone call or simply read - rather than sit
in the car and wait for me to show up.
tasks increases workers' self-esteem and motivation and
makes them team players.
Now, even If Sam calls him for work in the middle of the
night, he is ready - because Sam respects him for what
he does. Team Interactions unfortunately, when good teams
do get created, they almost invariably fall apart. In
our system today it is very difficult to build teams because
nobody wants to be seen playing second fiddle. It is very
hard in India to find good losers. Well, you win some
and you lose some. If you lose some, you should move on!
You don't need to spend all your time and energy of different
cultural backgrounds, religions, ethnicities and caste
groups - a fertile ground of diversity in the workplace.
We should actually be experts in working with diversity.
But it can only happen when we get rid of personal, caste
and community interests.
could be a 40-year-old CEO with a 55-year-old VP. It has
nothing to do with age; capability and expertise are what
counts. But you don't yet see these attitudes taking hold
in India. Managers in the US corporate environment who
work with Indians - and in fact, with Asians in general
- need to recognize that these individuals have a tendency
to feel that they are not getting recognition or are not
being respected. It must be realized that these individuals
have lower self-esteem to begin with and therefore have
to be pampered and encouraged a little more because they
need it. This makes them feel better and work better.
Substitute for Teamwork. Teamwork is key to corporate
and national governance, and to get anything done.
fundamental Issues are respect for others, openness, honesty,
communication, willingness to disagree, resolution of
conflict, and recognition that the larger goal of the
team as a whole rumps Individual or personal agendas.
be afraid of pressure.
that Pressure is what turns a lump of coal into a diamond.
Source :Caught in the net