Right from the beginning of my "CorporateTheatre" facilitation experience of over 15 years, one truth that has stood out clearly and consistently is the power of Collaboration over Competition. While competition between organizations and teams is healthy, energizing, and productive, competition within a team can be acutely dysfunctional if not disastrous.
(It is important to keep in mind here the definition of a 'natural' team. As described in several earlier posts, a 'natural' team is a self-contained entity that either wins or does not win, together. Any function that affects another function cannot be defined, experienced, or appraised as a team. They are simply functions that go up to make a team, like batting, bowling, and fielding, within a cricket team.)
In a recent workshop with one of India's most renowned organizations, this truth was shockingly reinforced!
After an intense and highly competitive theatre exercise, we were discussing the responsibility of leadership in not only getting the right people on the bus*, but equally so in ensuring that the wrong people get off the bus. Across hundreds of workshops, one learning that has repeatedly emerged is that given the right environment there is almost no one who is not willing to align themselves to a common goal and collective success. If people in a team are not willing to perform, the problem is most often not with the people, but with team definitions where functions are defined and appraised as teams, or a policy framework that creates competition within a team. However, in the rare instance that there is a person in the team who is not willing to align to a collective performance for whatever reason, effective leadership calls for re-aligning the person, or if that is not possible, re-deploying the person, and if even that is not workable, removing the person. The more high profile or visible this non-aligned person is, the greater the urgency of taking necessary action, simply because one such person can block the energy of several people who could otherwise be significant contributors.
During the course of the discussion, one of the senior participants made a shocking statement. "We need to keep a few non-contributors in the team", she said. "When the time for performance rankings comes up and we have to categorize people into percentiles, we need to compulsorily put some people in the bottom 10%. Having a few proven non-performers in the team helps to ensure that actual performers get rewarded."
Can anything be more counterproductive? Imagine deliberately keeping a few non-performers in a football team, a cricket team, a mountaineering team, or a theatre group!
So what about top performers or star contributors? As has been explained in several earlier posts in my blog - www.theatreforlearning.blogspot.com - "CorporateTheatre" offers clear, experiential, and practical insights into how 'natural' teams recognize and richly reward star performers in a way that motivates the star performers as well as the teams, in equal measure.
(* “CorporateTheatre” advocates creative recruitment tools that can be used after shortlisting candidates. A 2 to 3-hour theatre-based exercise can provide deep insights into the creativity, energy, collaborative instinct, and alignment potential of short-listed candidates, which would otherwise be difficult to assess in a typical one-on-one chat, or a group discussion.)