Getting Along Can Do You In- Team Spirit Gone Wrong

June 14, 2016

Getting Along Can Do You In Team Spirit Gone Wrong

The need for harmony

Having a harmonious working life is a good thing, as is a harmonious personal life. It is stressful, unpleasant, and even injurious to your health to work in tension or conflict. A team which gets along is usually more productive. However, the need for harmony can sometimes be so overwhelming that everything else goes out the window—such as being innovative, avoiding failure, or telling the truth. Let’s use the example below to explore this.

Missing data

The executive group reviews the strategic plan annually. You supervise putting together the report. You research trends, gather data, and model different scenarios for the plan.

Your meeting with Jean, your employee

You: Jean, have you seen how Megan’s company did their report? I like it. I think we should use it this year.
Jean: Hey, we took over Megan’s company. She should do it our way.
You: We should use what’s best from both.
Jean: (Silence)
You: Anyhow, because Megan is with us, we can spread out the work.
Jean: She’s three hours behind us. It’ll be impossible to work together.
You: There’s a way it might. You like the research—and you’re great at it.
Jean: It’s all that matters. The rest is formatting.
You: So this year you can focus on that and leave the compilation to Megan using the new format.
Jean: Sure. Whatever.

Well, not the best meeting you’ve had with Jean but not the worst either. Actually, you’re pretty pleased. Jean is an excellent and imaginative researcher but terrible about deadlines. This leaves her out of readying the report for submission.

You’re called away

Several months later, you hang up the phone and rush into Jean’s office.

You: Jean, my mom called. My father’s had a stroke.
Jean: Is he all right?
You: They think so but I’ve got a flight at 4:00
Jean: Good—give them my best.
You: You know the report for Friday. Megan’s ready to go when she gets the research.
Jean: Don’t worry—go catch your plane.
You: Okay, but it’s important the report go out. Call me if you need to.
Jean: Yeah, yeah. I’ll handle it. Now go.

The report didn’t go

The doctors think your father will recover fully. You’ve spent the week setting up for his coming home. It’s only when you’re back in the office, you think: I hope the report went. You spend the first couple of hours clearing your e-mails.

From your boss: Glad to hear everything went well. Could you check on the strategic plan report? I didn’t get anything Friday.


From Megan, Friday, 4:57: The attached report is as complete as possible. Just needs the relevant data.


From Jean to Megan, c.c. you, Monday, 9:23: The data you require.

Suddenly, you are pissed. What the hell is going on?


The next post will answer the question by examining exactly how the need for harmony did you in, in this case. The post after that will discuss how you can fix the situation.

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