Downsides of Refusing to Take One for the Team

Downsides of Refusing to Take One for the Team In the previous post, YOU made your case for going to an important conference but were overruled by the boss. But YOU might feel that you didn’t fight hard enough. You might be right—more argument might make a difference. However, you could win the battle but lose the war. Winning the battle but losing the war As I have mentioned in other posts, the pressure to get along within a team can be overwhelming. And from the manager’s or company’s point of view, that’s a good thing. A harmonious work environment is pleasant and assumed to be optimally productive. (This isn’t always true, of course—see my post Getting Along Can Do You In). But in order to create this harmony, everybody in the group has to implicitly agree not to rock the boat. Those who break that rule (like continuing to push going to a conference) are at least frowned upon, if not actively sanctioned. “That’s not fair!” I can hear you say. “People should not be punished for sticking up for themselves.” Absolutely right. However, the desire for harmony trumps almost everything else in the work place. What are the…

When Not to Take One for the Team

When Not to Take One for the Team As I covered in the previous post, taking one for the team, or putting yourself at a disadvantage in order to help, is often the right way to go. But sometimes, it isn’t. When to stick to your guns When this is very, very important to you and/or your career. Maybe you need to attend because you are actively scouting for a new job. Naturally, you can’t say that but you need to go. When you think it’s somebody else’s turn. You may already know that, for example, Tim has been to the conference every year for the last five. When you feel you are being unfairly pressured. It’s not as probable in the scenario I’ve laid out, but if you feel that you’re targeted, you may want to resist. How do you avoid volunteering? In the original scenario, your boss, Gwen, asked YOU, Tim, or Sacha to forego the conference. Let’s pick up the conversation from that point. Reprise Gwen: I was kind of hoping for a volunteer.   DO NOT be the first to speak no matter the length of the silence. The first to speak often puts himself into…

When to Take One for the Team

When to Take One for the Team As in life, people who never compromise, volunteer,  or take the wishes and needs of others into account—well, they might be successful but they surely aren’t popular in teams. And frankly, I doubt they are all that successful either. Purely pragmatically, it is in your best interest to be seen as someone who will put the good of the group ahead of your own wishes. From your own experience, I’m sure you know that your colleagues like you more and are therefore more likely to help out when you need it. In addition, a team where all members are willing to give and take is a good place to work, as well as (usually) more effective. We all want to have a job where we love to get into work—being a good team member can contribute to that environment. So when is the right time? There can be any number of right times, but here are some you might want to consider if we are talking about the previous situation where someone can’t go to a high-value conference. Others have not had the opportunity. You’ve already attended twice. Is there another team member who…

Taking One for the Team?

Taking One for the Team? Taking one for the team—it seems to have originated with baseball (thanks, Wikipedia!)—but is often used in work settings. It usually means agreeing to personally take on an unpalatable task in order to help your team.  Let’s look at an example. You work in a large company with a history of developing its people, but upheavals in the industry have meant cutbacks of all kinds. You’ve been in your job for two years and, every year, the company allows your unit (three of you—YOU, Sacha, and Tim—and your manager—Gwen) to attend the conference in your field. You’ve learned a lot each time and made useful contacts you’ve used in your work. Gwen calls a team meeting. Gwen: I’ve just had a management meeting. The budget is really tight. No lay-offs, at least for now, but they’re cutting back in other ways. You: Like what? Gwen: Well, for one thing, I only have money for three of us to attend the conference later this year. Sacha: One of us can’t go? Gwen: I’m afraid so. Tim: So who? Gwen: (not looking at anyone) Well, I was kind of hoping for a volunteer. Someone who would take…

Should You Fight Groupthink? Usually No.

Should You Fight Groupthink? Usually No. Since groupthink tends to support the status quo and is relatively unfriendly to innovation, isn’t it your duty as an employee of the company to fight it? Certainly, companies need innovation, even if they’re not very good at it (my book). You can count on the fingers of one hand CEOs who say, “No, no—new thinking is not welcome here.” So companies need to minimize groupthink to maximize new ideas. But while it`s good for the company, is it good for you?  Not necessarily You’d hope that suggesting a really innovative idea would have your co-workers hailing you as the new Einstein. Well, might happen but equally possibly, they`ll spend the time explaining why it won`t work. But because you’re so enthusiastic, you keep pushing. If you do it long enough, you might experience an odd phenomenon. The group may see you as generating conflict by your continued persistence insistence. Groups tend not to like and even ostracize those who rock the boat and will often interpret it as a personal failing (“She’s so hard to get along with”) rather than an effort to help the group operate more effectively. Even if they adopt…