What Nobody Believes in, but Everybody Believes That Everybody Else Believes In
Self-imposed restraints in a team often arise from ‘pluralistic ignorance’, a fancy way of saying: “a set of things that nobody believes in, but everybody believes that everybody else believes in”. The group-think effect in teams often happens without anyone noticing. It slips in through the backdoor so to speak and creates a negative vice grip on every level of team functioning. The result invariably is mediocrity at best and frustration and disillusionment at worst. How does it happen and what can be done?
Personal Growth – The cause is a lack of individual personal growth. An item seldom, if ever, to be found on the agenda of a team meeting or discussion. However, unless managers and team members set aside the distorting perceptual filters of artificial models, theories, and stereotypes and come into contact with: what is actually going on in the here and now, what needs to be done now, and how to do it, nothing will change. Humans do not experience the parts of their environment separately, but rather tend to organise the parts into a meaningful whole. In other words, we want things and events in our experience to make sense in terms of what we already know. For better or worse.
Personal growth enables people to change for the better. The nutrient is feedback. Unfortunately, most try to avoid it with clever intellectual manoeuvres. It enables a presence of mind in the here and now. It implies a broadening, building on the past, creative use of input from the environment, new forms, increasing maturity and good judgement, learning from experience. It should be an essential part of the way individuals learn to be more effective working in a team.
Skills – The individual is the most basic producing unit of a team. Most of us measure our effectiveness, and are measured by others and by the results we produce through feedback, by skills that cannot be trained into us. They are skills that we grow into carefully, frequently painfully and with much practice and experience. Two types of skills.
Choice – The first has o do with the choices we make, the judgements of what to do and what not to do with our time and our energy. Training teaches us a certain set of behaviours, pressing a button when a light goes on or tightening a bolt when a component goes by. It does not teach us to exercise judgement. Making choices is what makes us human, and the more conscious and aware are our choices, the more fully human we are. Only growing people, not trained ones, can create goals, plan strategies, foresee consequences, adapt to new circumstances, set priorities. These things happen by growth, growing to the maturity that can view situations not only in terms of immediate personal needs but in terms of organisational and team performance benefits, the willingness to risk present security and reward for long term growth. These things come from self-awareness and conscious commitment, which can be learned but not trained.
People – The second skill relates to working with people. Intégro’s fundamental position holds that the quality of relationships in any enterprise ultimately determines its degree of success. It’s about learning how to develop your coping, relating and achieving skills with others. Some signals that indicate a lack of skill are confusion, ambivalence, frustration and indecision. Only personal growth will prevent four major relationship skill interferences; Contact, poor sensory contact, talking ‘past’ each other; Masking, holding back or blocking self-expression; Denial, behaviour reflecting hidden agendas; Imaginings, thinking, theorising and anticipating what’s going on in someone else’s mind. We cannot be trained not to fall prey to these because they are multi-dimensional that requires awareness, sensitivity and understanding. We can grow into a level of maturity to manage them more skilfully though.