In the previous post, we not only saw the dangers of inadequate social and interpersonal communication, but also a brief overview of how to improve them and the benefits this can bring. Therefore, all you need to do is to apply them when you are dealing with co-workers, and presto! Everything is fine and well.
Well? Not so fast. Take a seat and a deep breath please.
The problem with teamworking is that, generally speaking, you’re dealing with a very complex environment: your co-workers are also competing with you, be it for a raise, a promotion, or – God forbid – for the same job (especially if your company is cutting costs). This situation makes socializing more difficult, as your team might actively try to sabotage communication between themselves.
To make matters worse, near-sighted companies may actually encourage this behavior, as it does increase productivity for a while. This can clearly be seen in the Wal-Mart Chain, spread throughout The United States. These companies, however, fail to see the big catch in their strategy. Can you spot it?
The catch is that, by encouraging internal competition, they risk losing productivity on the long term, as your team turns from a healthy, working body into a cancerous one: disputes arise; no one stays in his/her job for very long (and this requires constant re-training, which means more money being burned); People get sick more often, due to sheer stress, and companies turn blind to the competition, self-destructing themselves. Remember Wal-Mart? They became so fierce in the US that some branches started to cannibalize each other.
How can I Improve Socialization With My Team?
This is a very tough question, as it doesn’t depend just on you, but also on everyone on your company. You can, however, try to improve the situation by following a few steps:
- Show you think and care for your team as human beings – if possible, say “hi” to each of them more often, or make nice (and sincere) remarks about their work. If the relationship between them does not improve, at least your socialization with them might.
- Emphasize you are a team, not enemies (this is more effective if you are the team leader) – talk to them, and say that you work to achieve the same goal. The competitors are out there – not inside the company.
- Bring the situation to your boss – if the two previous hints didn’t work, try bringing the situation to your boss. If (s)he does care, (s)he will setup events and/or meetings to try fixing the situation.
- If nothing is working for you, leave – if you sense your company actively encourages this type of behavior, do not give in: chances are it’ll make you sour emotionally and physically. Instead, look for a company that that actually sees the importance of teamwork. Chances are you’ll grow much more professionally and won’t need a therapist and drugs for the rest of your life to cope trying to survive in an environment where people you’re supposed to work with are hunting for each other’s heads.