Group-work is rewarding when the team, in perfect harmony, executes a given task; it is effortless in attaining goals because of the all-encompassing approach in problem-solving. “Differences” amongst people is the tipping point in deciding if a team is going to succeed or not. From my experience, a group that keeps the differences intact performs way better than groups that strive for achieving cohesiveness in thinking.
Differences include age, cultural background, education, and personality.
The goal of keeping the differences is to try to achieve group-work harmony while avoiding cohesive thinking.
The differences within teams help in achieving creative abrasion. The resulting friction in teams is known to result in higher creativity. The same teams are also known to solve problems quicker by achieving group-work harmony. In the past 7 months, I have worked on 20+ business cases in 8 different teams. My group work results have been higher in teams that had the differences in-tact. Differences do matter.
The common perception is that differences can make it difficult for groups, and this, in my opinion, is true only when you do not handle the differences up front. Most teams fail when they begin to react to them. I follow a couple of practices that have made me, and consequently, my team adept when managing differences.
1 – Include “know your team” in the Gantt chart
Knowing your team has to be the very first thing you do when you start the project. This helps you in better managing differences rather than reacting to it when the conflict arises. Use any form of socialising to know the person out of the work setting, and there is no need to intrude personal space in doing so. Things I enjoy to do are to play a sport, cook and eat together or play a fun game of monopoly.
2 – Find out the other’s comfort zone
I think that individual growth occurs when outside the comfort zone, and group success is when every member exploits a strength by increasing the challenge within the comfort level. Knowing the others’ comfort zone helps you in picking up responsibilities and assigning tasks to others. A better work-load share helps in managing differences and getting the group-work harmony we are aiming.
Managing the differences within the team keeps creative abrasion up and therefore help in achieving the goal. Please comment below on what other approaches you take to achieving group work harmony while avoiding group-think cohesion.