Dear HR Executive:
Do you have people in your company who are rebels and always seem to take contradictory views? It's easy to categorize these people as "poor team players."
But are they? Maybe. We all have narcissistic employees who feel that going along with the team somehow robs them of their own identity. If they "buy in" they're "selling out." Some of these people are highly productive and can be fine employees, but they'll never be assigned leadership roles because they could never be counted on to embrace and propagate company values.
But there's another kind of contrarian employee who is often frozen out by team members. This employee understands the culture and is presenting a contrarian view for all the right reasons, yet is still rejected. Below is an article from B21's newsletter Human Resources 21 that contains a fascinating statistic that should alarm anybody at your company who leads a team. It reveals that great companies and mediocre companies deal with contrarians very differently. Read on.
The Emotional Qualities that Make Good Team Members
Successful executive teams don’t have the smartest, most driven people in the company. New research shows that team success boils down to two qualities: integrity and empathy.
A study by Hay Group, with Harvard University and Dartmouth College, examined 14 teams at global organizations to find which elements differentiated “outstanding,” “typical” and “poor” teams.
The results apply most directly to executive team members, but the findings also enlighten HR managers who work in collaborative environments and rely on others to get things done.
Sensitive to unspoken emotions of others
Empathy is the ability to understand the emotional makeup of others. Hay research showed that on outstanding teams 71% of participants said their peers were sensitive to the unspoken emotions of their fellow team members. On typical teams just 44% said the same.
Why is empathy so important? “Because members of a team will only buy into the team process if they feel they are both heard and understood,” says Hay consultant Deb Nunes.
Nunes adds that when ‘non-empathetic” members dominate a team, resentment builds when people feel they haven’t been heard, and this resentment undermines the performance of the team.
The solution: The team leader must select empathic executives who can listen to others without interrupting. According to Nunes, this isn’t about being uncontentious; it’s fine to disagree after you’ve listened. “We found that team members accept criticism, even outright rejection, of their ideas as long as they have had a chance to explain them and feel that others understood their point of view,” Nunes explains.
Be consistent with values, even if it’s risky
In the study, integrity was defined narrowly. On teams a person with integrity is someone who behaves consistently with the organization’s values – even when it is personally risky to do so.
The numbers contrasted sharply on this question. On average teams, just 3% of members said at least one person on the team would take such a risk. On outstanding teams the number was an astonishing 44%. Some signs of integrity:
- Speaking one’s mind, telling the truth without fear of reprimand.
- Walking the talk. Once you’ve signed on to a course of action, subordinate your own interests to those of the group.
- Speaking for those not present. In meetings, never use someone’s absence as a means of driving through proposals without objection.
Source: Hay Group