August 20, 2016

Espirit de Corps should not be counterproductive

Working in teams is part of our daily life be it in business organisations, in educational institutions, in sports and so on. It is common knowledge that teams with a high spirit and strong sense of togetherness are more likely to achieve success. Nevertheless, there arises a question as to how we actually build this team spirit or espirit de corps.
There is no doubt that high team spirit is a desirable trait for any team. The benefits are straight forward. As each and every member wants the team as a whole to succeed, they are highly motivated, committed and co-operative, which has led them to exert their utmost effort. As a consequence, they perform their best in the most effective and efficient manner. Another obvious benefit is that all members are satisfied with what they do; they have job satisfaction.
Quite evidently, the high spirited teams may spread out their energy, the espirit de corps and morale to other groups in their work environment, thereby exerting a positive influence upon the spirit and culture of the entire organisation. On the other hand, this team spirit can be counterproductive because this kind of spirit can evolve into group ethnocentrism and can cause dysfunctional competition and conflict between groups. Their pride as the conquerors and their elitist behaviour can have negative impact on the organisation as a whole.
It is, therefore, worth recalling a practice of socialist labour emulation in the days of the socialist regime led by General Ne Win. The factories, mills and work establishments were ardently vying with one another, exerting their utmost effort to increase their productivity. Since they were bent upon enhancing the quantity to win the best productivity award, they were forced to compensate the quality for quantity. They did not bother very much in regard to quality control. This is the darker side of the labour emulation.
Such being the case, it is of utmost importance to build the team spirit in a healthy way. There should be a mechanism to avoid the extremes, being aware that competition should be encouraging co-operation and co-ordination, not harming the unity among different groups across the organisation.


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