Corporate culture in Russia: in search of a middle ground
Corporate culture, teambuilding - these are sonorous words that have long been heard in modern business discourse, little by little are affirmed in our language. Together with them, one of the main ideas takes root: the internal life of the team, the relationships that permeate it both horizontally and vertically affect the results of the work, which means that management should not let them go by their own accord. This is where everything that we are accustomed to associate with Western corporate structures comes from, from joint visits to trainings to the morning collective singing of hymns. The idea behind all this is the same: by hook or by crook to make an employee feel like a part of a single whole, more firmly “solder” it into a common mechanism.
On domestic soil, all these postulates and valuable recommendations, according to my observations, take root frankly poorly. Either the recent past crushes, or the Russians are really more introverted by nature - in a word, here one could talk for a long time about the mentality and mysterious Russian soul. However, let us leave this topic for other resources and just note: vigorous calls to see in each day the opportunity for self-improvement and consider the work team as the second family cause most skeptical smiles or deaf irritation. And, since recently they have been sounding from all sides, the counteraction force naturally works. Unsociability, which is generally a quality common in the IT sphere, as a result of imposing on people an alien model of interaction from a personal characteristic, turns into a principled position. "I was hired to do the work, I do it, everything else doesn’t concern me." And Western experts, as it turns out, are still right: such a position does not really reflect on team work in the best way.
The answer to the naturally arising question "So what to do?" quite obvious: seek a middle ground. Somewhere, there must be a line that separates the measures for debugging team work from what will be perceived as a frank invasion of personal space. It is also obvious that this line is mobile: in different teams, a different amount of communication is required for a successful work process and overall comfort. But we will not go deep in particular and will try to determine the universal lower boundary. What are the minimum requirements that make a team a team?
Guided by my own experience and leadership in teams of different sizes and orientations, I answer this question as follows:
Each of the team members should at least have an idea of what the others are doing.
Naturally, in large companies this rule is applied within specific departments. Naturally, cheat sheets with job descriptions are optional, especially when it comes to non-communicating areas, a superficial understanding is enough. But the general principle is just that.
Why? For several reasons.
Firstly, without this information you do not have a full-fledged picture of the work process, even if you know from and to what stages of formation the product goes through and what place your own works occupy in this chain. The human factor cannot be discounted: the mere fact of how many hands the project will go through before and after your intervention will affect the deadlines and its final appearance. The latter, by the way, "individualists" often do not take into account. The isolation strategy “I am responsible only for my own results” is undermined by the simple fact that the results of the work of an employee do not always reach the evaluator in its purest form. The reality is that while your personal contribution to the business is inseparable from the general, you are connected with the team, whether you want it or not. And of course, it’s wiser to track and control this connection,
Secondly, it speeds up and simplifies tasks. Today, the coordination of all work processes, bringing them together, as a rule, is the task of specially trained people - project managers, team leaders and others like them, so at first glance, advising you to bother with someone else's work may seem strange. But if you think about it, you come to the conclusion: lengthening the communicative chain by one link can be rational only in those cases when it initially has a complex structure. If you need a simple answer to a simple question from a colleague who is sitting in the next office, the introduction of an intermediary (who does not always, moreover, understands the essence of the matter) turns a trivial matter into a lengthy game into a dead phone. This is neither profitable for the company that wastes valuable hours of time, nor for you personally — there is as much time and effort to communicate, and the effect is less than if you contacted the right employee directly. And if so, is it not better to make an effort to know who to contact in this or that case?
Thirdly ... but here we have to introduce another foreign word - networking. Strictly speaking, what I am describing here is not, however, we can say that it serves as the first step to the beginning of the process. Networking is, in essence, the art of creating useful connections, and it always starts with concretizing the concept of “utility”. When you look at a company as a mechanism, the device and components of which are well known to you, you see in its entirety not only the work process, but also the personnel structure and, accordingly, you can evaluate your place in it, prospects and alternatives. What positions in the company do your profile specialists take? Is there migration between departments? Which posts have the most to do with what you do? It’s much easier to outline career paths and take concrete, targeted actions on them,
Mention could also be made of mutual responsibility and spontaneous cooperation, but these are more subjective factors. The three theses listed above, it seems to me, demonstrate the validity of the basic principle that I have deduced as well as possible. It was not by chance that I tried to emphasize, first of all, the benefit of observing it for the employee himself - it is not difficult to calculate the advantages for the manager. The combination of objective mutually beneficial and uncomplicated implementation just make it a good litmus test to test the functionality of the team. This is the minimum that is necessary for any workable team, regardless of which team concept its members support; if it’s not there, look around: most likely, there is no team as such. At least my experience is this. What do you say?