3 Premises that Kill Teamwork

Teamwork can be hard because it is soft

Teamwork is tough, especially in the post-covid workplace. And the thing often overlooked when making teams work is expectation management. Putting the processes in place only partially adds to the success of the teamwork. What really makes a difference is adjusted expectations. There are 3 premises that often get in the way of making teamwork work: the expectations for honesty, equality, and stability.


So, once the right team members are in place, things should work out, right? Not at all. The worst premise to project positive team work outcome on is the status quo. Selecting the right team members matters, but the ugly truth is that it does not guarantee good work results. The only stable premise to build and manage teams on is that there is no stability. Everything is changing all the time, and these changes need to be constantly monitored and addressed. Employees change with circumstance, and different circumstances call out different qualities in different people. All of which influence the team dynamics and therefore the work results. Building boundaries and allowing space for flexibility are the 2 aspects that can help build stable teams in unstable times.


It is rather risky to say that there is no equality in the workplace. Not to say that there isn’t or shouldn’t be the effort towards it. But the fact is that equality is a bit like happiness, which is more of a process rather than the result. Why? Because there are no 2 employees who can produce equal output in a given circumstance. The truth is that a positive teamwork outcome is built on leveraging all employee input and output at a given time. It’s the sum total that counts, and it’s the only thing that can create good and lasting teamwork results. If employees are simply treated equally and are expected to deliver equally all the time, then teamwork failure is guaranteed. Because no employee is alike, and no circumstance is equally triggering to them. Team member reactions (and the output) are a highly personal thing stemming from past work experiences and the Corporate Self identity. Therefore, treating everyone equally is a great workplace practice. And expecting everyone to deliver equally is a flawed premise that kills teamwork.


Expecting employees to be honest with one another and their boss is, well, stupid. Because why would anyone be honest about their weaknesses when they are being measured against their strengths? It’s not that employees are promoted based on the number of the issues they have, right? A workplace is a bit like social media in the sense that everyone feels the pressure to show their best only. Therefore, expecting team members to play honestly does not make sense. Rather, it is more likely that they will play it safe. It is rather odd, then, that the HR expect employees to come to them with honest confessions about personal blind spots and roadblocks. Honesty is currency indeed, but it does not circulate in the workplace. Engaging in observational practices instead of expecting honesty in the workplace is a much faster route to teamwork greatness.

Work from anywhere practices have proven expectation management to be a big part of teamwork success. And building teams on unrealistic premises is like building a house on quicksand. Getting real about expectations to team members saves time and effort along the way to team greatness. The 3 common ugly truths to get real about are constant change in team dynamics, team members not delivering equally even when treated equally, and “selective honesty” from employees. Aligning team member expectations starts with getting real about these truths. If one can do that, the rest is easy.

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