“Most executive teams are, in effect, legislatures. With the exception of the CEO, each member represents a significant constituency in the organization, from marketing to operations to finance. No matter how many times a CEO asks team members to take off their functional hats and view the organization holistically, the executives find it difficult to divorce themselves from their functional responsibilities . . . . . .” Bob Frisch. When Teams Can’t Decide. Harvard Business Review
Staging a play also involves groups who represent ‘significant constituencies’ with totally different skill sets, needing different tools, techniques and requirements to do their job - Actors, the Director, Sets & props, Light & Sound, Costumes, Make-up . . . . However, across all functions, across all roles, everyone has total clarity about the play, and uniform commitment to getting a standing ovation from the audience. They sit through the rehearsals to get detailed insights into the evolution of the play, the challenges faced by the actors who interface with the audience, the director’s visualisation, and about what the audience needs to experience throughout the performance, and what they need to take back with them as they leave the auditorium at the end of the play.
This being so, everyone’s team identity is the Play and everyone’s objective, the success of the Play, in terms of audience response. The person in the sound booth who is probably never seen by the audience is as committed to the audience experience as the actor on the stage. The ‘constituencies’ are interrelated, interdependent functions within the Play, akin to batting, bowling, fielding, and wicket-keeping within a cricket team.
Merely asking people ‘to take off their functional hats’ does not serve the purpose. Homilies and ‘teaming’ activities that talk about ‘Together Everyone Achieves More’, or ‘in a good team, people drop their egos’, do not work, simply because like in theatre, corporates are also made of up of people with strong egos and ambitions who want to go up the hierarchy in a fiercely competitive environment, and become celebrities in their own right .
The challenge therefore is to create a policy framework that clearly defines, appraises, and rewards a Team as one unit made up of interrelated roles and functions that either wins or does not win, together. Everyone in the team should be clear about what the team needs to WIN, and also that their personal winning is irrevocably aligned to the team’s success. They should know that their role or function cannot get any significant reward unless the team collectively succeeds in achieving their common goal. As repeatedly and consistently experienced in “CorporateTheatre” workshops, it is not about changing people, but about changing the environment.
The scope for recognising, celebrating, and significantly rewarding star performers without affecting the team culture of collective, collaborative, creative, customer-centric excellence is also defined through the workshops.
(Photo courtesy: U Koushik. Perch)