I find that it’s pretty cool that every few weeks I can apply one of the lessons learned in this course and tie it into a blog post about my current job. However, it’s equally extremely sad that it always skews toward the “what not to do” section of the lessons.
When I went through the interview process 3 years ago, an emphasis was placed on how well everyone at this company works as a team, and regardless of qualifications, they were really looking to ensure that I, and future candidates, would be the right “fit” with everyone so as to not interrupt that cohesive nature. The text states that synergy, in part, “involves joint action in which the total effect is greater than the sum of effects when acting independently” (Moran, Abramson & Moran, 2014), which is the path that I believe the interviewer was headed down. After my first few weeks there, I couldn’t refute her claims. Everyone in my department was very accommodating, and they were in constant communication with each other to ensure that goals were being met, and everyone had a role to play. But it wasn’t until I started getting involved in interdepartmental meetings that I realized the proverbial buck on synergistic culture, stopped there.
A few months ago they created a meeting area behind my cubicle that they dubbed the “War Room”, which is a concept in Project Management circles that adapts the war-time strategy function to project development (Kijko, 2017). In theory, it serves as a safe space amongst a team to strategize, communicate, plan, and problem-solve instantly, with all team members present and on the same page to eliminate flaws or mistakes that other forms of communication (like phone calls or email) are susceptible to on their own. And for the first few weeks, it worked like a charm. It created a team-building environment that seemed like it was pulled straight out of our textbook, promoting an, “openness to change, innovation, group consensus, team decision-making, and creative problem-solving” (Moran, Abramson & Moran, 2014). However, once Q4 was getting to the late stages, the tone quickly switched from collaborative to combative. Everyone one was stressed and tired, so no one was willing to help on projects that they deemed out of their scope. When a problem went up on the board previously, there was a true sense of getting to the bottom of how it happened and brainstorming ways to prevent it in the future. Now, it seems to be 30 minutes of the “blame game”, trying to deflect responsibility and action on every adjacent department. As a result, several of our machines did not ship on time, hurting our reputation, sales numbers and client relationships, which resulted in us falling out of favor with several investors.
What was once an outlet to drive action and solve problems, became an outlet for inaction that created problems (which could also be pitched as an impromptu game show where contestants compete to throw as many of their colleagues under the bus in 30 minutes…only instead of winning a car or a trip to Italy, the prize is low employee morale and millions of dollars in sales down the drain). Hopefully the next VP that we hire will be more open to employee concerns and get this format back on track to do what it was originally intended.
Kijko, P. (2018, August 22). The War Room Concept in Project Management. Retrieved February 20, 2019, from https://www.timecamp.com/blog/2017/01/the-war-room-concept-in-project-management/
Moran, R. T., Abramson, N. R., & Moran, S. V. (2014). Managing cultural differences: Leadership skills and strategies for working in a global world. New York: Elsevier.