On life…and learning

A truly Great Team OR only a Great Company?

with 8 comments

Great Team OR Great CompanyThis is the season of several business magazines publishing lists, their own versions, of great companies to work with. And very soon, we will have surveys of employee engagement being administered across companies, gauging the engagement of the employees across verticals and teams in each company – the quintessential annual exercise.

And here I am, bemused all over once again at this very concept! All these years of being a part of the corporate world and some great companies, I could never understand the concept of a ‘great company’ or a ‘not-so-great company’. To my mind, there can be no such thing like a great or not-great company. In fact, there are ‘great teams’ and ‘not-great teams’ that are more of reality, as far as engagement of any employee is concerned. Think of it, if you were working in a ‘not-great team’ inside an otherwise ‘great company to work’, would you be really engaged and productive? No, right? On the other hand, if you work in a really great team, chances are that you’d be far more engaged and involved, even if your company is not really appearing amidst rankings of the great companies. If you agree, then I wonder why is there so much fuss around a ‘great company’ and so little or less meaningful concentration and effort around building & nurturing great teams, consisting of high-performing, well-intentioned and competent employees!

In my experience, organizations must focus on identifying and nurturing ‘great teams’; there is a dire need to learn from what those teams are doing right, what is the culture and ethos and though I really not like the term, what are the ‘best practices’ that can be imbibed and used to turn around the ‘not-so-great teams’. And one of the key things great teams focus upon is that whether each & every teammate is getting right opportunities to use their strengths every day; that they get chances, challenges and encouragement to demonstrate their best every day. That’s the bottom line of creating a successful organization and that’s really where companies should focus upon.

When I look back in my own career and reflect, I see some superb Indian and global organizations I worked with. And yet, what I more vividly remember are the teams I was part of. Some ‘great teams’ I worked in, and on a rare occasion, also found myself in a ‘not-so-great team’. While I fondly remember the great teams & great people I worked with, I also equally remember that when I was part of a ‘not-so-great team’, I wasn’t able to use my strengths, and give my best every day. The very fact that the company I worked with was really world class didn’t make any difference to my motivation and energy levels during that phase. And I am sure, many of you would have experienced the same predicament one or the other time in your career.

Best companies are not ‘great companies’ merely by some survey or rating or ranking. They are a unified whole, a superset of several ‘great teams’ replete with ‘great individuals’, who give their best every day. And that is what modern organizations must try to achieve. That will really make them a ‘great workplace’.

I would any day prefer working in a ‘great team’ vs. a ‘poor team in a great company’. Now it’s your turn. Which of these views speak most to you? I am sure you too worked in some great as well as not-so-great teams; what are your experiences? Let me know in the comments below – and here’s to all of us building great companies.

8 Responses

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  1. Many many happy returns of day wishing you great happy birthday bhai ji

    Mohsin saifi

    mohsin saifi

    July 27, 2013 at 7:13 PM

  2. First I worked in a great team under a great Leadership. Then I worked in a not-so-great team. Both teams were poles apart. And the result was that I got disengaged.
    Now as HR professional when we talk about engagement, I could relate easily to my past. Perhaps this is the learning from not-so-great team that I could understand meaning of “engagement”.

    Sahil Chopra

    July 27, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    • Sahil, you have endorsed my view very well with your own example. Thanks! I am sure you will create many great teams as a HR professional.


      July 27, 2013 at 7:25 PM

  3. Currently i have been working in a company where i am evaluating different teams .
    you are right sir as the great team is always exceeding their targets in less than the allotted time while the other not so great teams are facing difficulty in even completing their targets.
    As far as my evaluation to these teams, it is a mix of great leadership, proper and continuous training, decision making participation, adequate opportunities to everyone and continuous motivation by leaders etc which makes great teams achieve their goals very easily and also the employee turnover is very low to these great teams.
    The team leader has to synchronize his efforts with HR strategies for proper productivity and effectiveness of team and its members.


    July 29, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    • Saurabh, you have noted interesting and valuable insights. These are the ingredients that make a great team – companies need to learn from such teams and use the learning to better the ‘not-so-great’ teams. That will ensure that the whole organization as a superset becomes better.
      You may also like to read my earlier blog under the same category – ‘What Makes a Team Work?’ – That will help you build even better understanding of the subject.


      July 29, 2013 at 10:15 AM

  4. Very much in agreement with your thoughts. I remember one of my project which failed in first go-live. but second time it goes successfully live and cotinue there on. And i was part to both the phases of project failed and passed. It was just team change. after failure of first go-live. During failed phase i notice some of the member are just part of the team and there engagement is only to certiain section of project. but during success phase it was whole team engaged through out and every section/part of phase was important to every team member.

    rambarat saroj

    July 29, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    • Ramabarat, you have made a very valid observation through your personal experiences. It is the power of a ‘well-connected’ and engaged team that delivers superior results, consistently and not as a fluke. Once the team-mates bond and love their work, and also get opportunities and encouragement to give their best everyday – then only they do given their best.
      You may like to read an earlier blog I wrote on ‘What Makes A Team Work’.


      July 29, 2013 at 8:32 PM

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