Stop complaining about your company, bet on your team!

I don’t particularly like people who complain in general, and I’ve learned from experience that complaints about one’s group or company often prove futile. Why? Well, simply because if we refer to Covey’s circles, it’s better to invest our time and energy in topics over which we can have a real influence. The rest occupies us cognitively and often negatively. Current events, for example, tend to addictively exhaust and saturate our attention on dramas beyond our scope of action and influence.

"What's the point? The context of my company prevents me from performing!

I often hear during my client interventions, ‘A lot of things are dysfunctional in the company, and these dysfunctions prevent us from properly carrying out our missions.’ Yet, not far from there, a team performing the same activity, in the same company and in the same socio-economic context, excels. Moreover, its collaborators seem fulfilled; the social bond and well-being within the team reach new heights. How can this be possible? What are the differentiating factors between these two team dynamics? How, in the same context of temperature and pressure, do some teams wilt while others thrive and bloom?

The dysfunctional team blames the company’s context, the very same in which the optimal team has found its balance.”

Is the grass really greener elsewhere?

This context, quite common in large companies that often accumulate multiple layers of management inherited from their growth – like the growth rings that determine the age of a tree – allows us to observe very different management situations from one part of the organization to another, as well as a capacity to function sometimes at the opposite ends from one team to another, even within the same direction or service. Do you know many large groups that today have an optimal functioning throughout their organization on:

  1.  the clarity of objectives and roles,
  2.  cross-functionality,
  3.  trust,
  4. psychological safety?

I don’t often see it, and any durability in this matter appears fragile. If you leave an organization for these reasons, first check the management that will welcome you elsewhere. I’m talking about your future hierarchical and functional managers and their respective n+1s.

Indeed, the culture of an organization induces powerful currents of values and behaviors. However, a management adjusted to the aspirations of the team will create a bubble of comfort, demand, and development suited to unlocking the team’s potential. It will mitigate the excesses and limiting beliefs of the organization, promote the interdependence of tasks – relying on each other to succeed – within the team, and establish psychological safety so that every voice can be heard, sharing its mistakes as so many levers for progress and its vulnerabilities as so many opportunities to play as a team.

Betting on your team, the winning scenario!

Betting on your team rather than complaining about your company is of crucial importance in the current professional context. On one hand, because you will not change the systemic functioning of your company in the short term, and on the other hand, because indeed, almost all of your problems can find a solution through your collective. Just consider that if, for example, all the company’s objectives are set centrally, it’s useless to lament this or to rehash it every day to your colleagues. It’s just an input data of the system of constraints imposed on you. Focus on everything else, and the rest is vast! Of course, if the system of constraints seems insurmountable, flee as fast as possible!

The prerequisites for team functioning

Firstly, a team’s efficiency is based on fundamental prerequisites such as clarity of roles and objectives, a climate of respect, fairness, and safety, as well as the team’s reflexivity. These elements create a solid foundation for teamwork, allowing each member to feel valued and engaged in the pursuit of common goals. By fostering an environment where trust prevails, where taking risks is possible, and where the diversity of skills and perspectives is valued, team cohesion is encouraged, and its performance potential is optimized.

Secondly, team satisfaction, which directly influences its performance, stems from the satisfaction of the intrinsic and extrinsic needs of members, such as mastery, relationships, the sense of work, and autonomy. When team members feel competent, connected, engaged in meaningful work, and free in their actions, their motivation and satisfaction increase, leading to better work quality and greater collective efficiency. Recognizing and valuing these aspects contributes to a positive climate, reinforcing the commitment and well-being of each individual, which favorably reflects on the team’s overall performance.

Finally, the team’s performance, which is the ultimate reflection of its efficiency, is closely linked to the team’s ability to achieve and exceed its goals. This requires clear adherence to objectives, an ability to manage uncertainty with a curious mindset, and openness to suggestions and external information. Emphasizing creative collaboration and innovation, supported by a positive team dynamic and solid team working prerequisites, not only allows achieving the set goals but also surpassing them. By investing in the team, an environment conducive to creativity, critical analysis, and innovation is promoted, key elements for long-term success and growth.

Thus, rather than focusing on the negative aspects of the company, investing in one’s team amounts to building a solid foundation for collective success. This creates a virtuous circle where respect, trust, satisfaction, and performance mutually nourish each other, leading to an enriching work environment for all team members and, by extension, a stronger and more resilient company.

Towards a networked and ecosystemic managerial organization

If the team is the relevant unit for performance and well-being in a company, we must now consider it in a network, within the company and also within an ecosystem of companies.

John Kotter, an emeritus professor at Harvard Business School, proposes a dual organizational model combining the traditional hierarchical structure with a horizontal network of agile teams to enable companies to quickly adapt to changes. This system capitalizes on the efficiency and reliability of the hierarchy while integrating the innovation and flexibility of networks, where motivated volunteers work on strategic initiatives beyond their usual roles. This dualistic approach facilitates a rapid response to unforeseen challenges and supports growth and innovation.

Ecosystemic management is gaining strength due to the complex and multidimensional evolution of organizations; it allows organizations to become open, responsive, and innovative systems, capable of pooling energies to face uncertainty and complexity. By equipping themselves with strong and committed collectives, based on the contribution of all actors, organizations can envisage sustainable and effective transformation, meeting current and future challenges.

The Covey Circles, stemming from the philosophy of Stephen Covey (1932-2012, of American nationality), consist of three concentric zones: the Circle of Concern, the Circle of Influence, and the Core. The Circle of Concern encompasses elements over which we have no direct control, such as global politics or the behavior of others. Conversely, the Circle of Influence contains aspects of our life over which we can act directly, like our reactions and decisions, thereby encouraging a focus on the elements we can indeed influence to improve our personal effectiveness and reduce stress. The Core, meanwhile, represents our fundamental values and principles, those that guide our actions and reactions, and is the source of our integrity and intrinsic motivation, encouraging a life aligned with what is truly important to us.

Author: Luc bretones, Founder of NextGen