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We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.Albert Einstein

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Combining individuals into a real team

Combining individuals into a real team

How can you capitalize on differences to work together more effectively and create real team momentum?


A real team is much more than a set of individuals. Groups formed in professional settings tend to allocate required tasks to those most qualified, under the supervision of a leader responsible for ensuring general coordination. High-performance teams combine the diverse perspectives and experience of the members to find completely new solutions.

This nuance makes all the difference in terms of performance. When a problem has multiple facets – technological, social and commercial, for example – , solutions found through the creative combination of different viewpoints and skills are much more powerful than the compromises made by individuals who merely work along-side one another.

Yet, finding the right formula to get a team to “gel” is a challenge that has intrigued organizational sociologists for years.

First of all, the issue is cultural. Team-work may not be particularly natural in individualistic cultures, where each employee must fight for his or her own career as much as for the good of the company as a whole. In such organizations, team initiatives create a competitive playing field where individuals are pitted against one another and act in their own respective interests. Indeed, when people feel they must “look out for number one,” they tend to focus on their own objectives first and foremost. They may withhold information or use it as a bargaining chip, and generally be distracted from focusing on the common goal of the team. The challenge then becomes recreating a shared vision that transcends individual aspirations and creates a sincerely shared sense of motivation.

But the greatest challenge lies in managing differences. Although a team’s value is derived from the diversity of its members, the latter must learn to work together despite their differences. Yet, nothing could be harder! Indeed, we naturally find it much easier to get along with people like ourselves! To overcome this challenge, it is important to understand the value of diversity and what it can do for a team, but also the style and attitudes of the different team members in order to be more accepting of their differences. It is also essential to realize that trust cannot be built in a day and that individuals need time to come together in a real team.

Synopsis n.191b