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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

THE VIRAL EFFECT , A DISSATISFIED TEAM MEMBER CAN AFFECT THE MORALE OF AN ENTIRE TEAM

THE VIRAL EFFECT

 

A DISSATISFIED TEAM MEMBER CAN AFFECT THE MORALE OF AN ENTIRE TEAM, SPREAD NEGATIVE VIBES AND CAUSE A LOT OF DAMAGE. YASMIN TAJ DISCOVERS HOW ORGANISATIONS TACKLE SUCH ISSUES

 

THE success of an organisation depends on its people and how they work in close coordination and harmony. If there is a group of people working together, dissonance or discontentment is inevitable. While organisations work extensively towards creating a healthy environment for employees, feelings of dissatisfaction are bound to creep in. There can be numerous reasons leading to small conflicts and tussles within a team. But, it does get dangerous when the problem remains unresolved and starts affecting the team’s morale and performance. It becomes absolutely essential for the organisation to control such a venomous atmosphere from spreading within a team and nip the ‘dispute’ in the bud.

NEGATIVE VIBES

There can be numerous factors affecting the morale of the employees and leading to disgruntlement. According to Dr Ganesh Shermon, partner and head - KPMG Human Capital Practice, KPMG, “Campus based peer level competitive pressure is a significant factor along with perception of distribution of rewards. But more importantly, poor leadership, lack of depth in people management mostly seen in organisations that lack leadership maturity is a major factor for disgruntlement within a team.”
   For Navin Joshua, executive director, vCustomer Corporation, “The few factors that may lead to disputes amongst the employees are role overlapping, ego clashes, miscommunication, etc.”Dr. Y V Verma, Director HR and MS, LGEIL adds, “Lack of transparency in dealing with HR issues, improper work-life balance and delay in redressal of grievances or lack of availability of such forum in an organisation also adds to an employee’s feeling of discontentment.”
   “The primary reason for dissatisfaction amongst employees is a feeling of disconnect with the organisation and lack of clarity about how they are contributing towards realisation of the corporate vision/goals. Also, the feeling of being treated unfairly or not being given an opportunity to explain their point of view adds to such a feeling. This could arise due to leadership style of the immediate boss or politicking/unfriendly behaviour of a colleague,” adds Rajiv Phadke, executive director, HR and Corporate Communications, Angel Broking.

INDICATORS OF SPITE

A problem like this has to be identified at the earliest in order to make sure it doesn’t get worse with each passing day. So how do organisations recognise such issues? “Generally when there is discontentment in a team, mails will be copied to more than necessary people, internecine gossip will float, third party will start commenting, people will ask global questions on policy related questions, question values of the company, politics at the grass root level, etc.,” Shermon discusses a few signs that can imply disgruntlement in a team.
   There are numerous indicators to identify that things are not fine in a team. Experts say that one needs to be sensitive to capture and understand these subtle indicators. “Some indicators include decrease in involvement by team members, indifferent attitude towards any situation, low productivity level, dropping quality level, dampening team spirit and low energy level in the team and increase in absenteeism and attrition level,” adds Verma.

NIP IT IN THE BUD

An organisation needs to deal with a lot of intricacies which include day to day problems, difference of opinions between colleagues, internal conflicts, etc. Trivial issues like these at times cause disgruntlement in teams, and this spreads faster than a virus. This is when the organisation needs to step up and handle the situation in a very careful and mature manner as early as possible.
   Experts say that it is important to deal with rising issues of disgruntlement at its initial levels, rather than prolonging it and turning them into conflicts. They say that organisations can do so by periodic feedback sessions between the superiors and the subordinates. Joshua explains, “We offer platforms such as skip level meetings, wherein both the superior and subordinate come together to discuss issues. We also have the ‘Voice of employee’ initiative, whereupon an employee can raise his/her issue via an e-mail that is accessible to the centre head.”
   “At Angel, we believe in resolving issues by dealing with them at the initial stages. Our managers take prompt action by meeting up with the disgruntled employee and trying to understand the reasons for his/her grievance. The important thing is that such interactions are held in a positive and problem solving mind set and not in an interrogating manner. All managers and HODs are trained to enhance their people management skills in general, and conflict resolution techniques in specific,” informs Phadke.

ENCOURAGING TEAM SPIRIT

Considering that such problems of dissatisfaction can come up at anytime, most organisations have adopted special intervention techniques for handling these problems. Also, maintaining a healthy and positive environment helps combat negativity in workplace and organisations are doing a lot to do so.
   At KPMG, they conduct periodic ‘Role Negotiation Technique and Processes’ to engage people on a 360 degree basis to communicate. “This has proved to be very effective. ‘Leadership and Stake Holder Alignment Techniques’ help bring about a common understanding on team performance management too,” states Shermon.
   “We at vCustomer believe in 'Employee First' and ensure a conducive, lively and healthy environment for our employees. Events, floor games, activities, recognition programmes have become a part of the employees’ daily lives. We provide 24/7 HR support to the employees to address their issues if any,” expresses Joshua.
   According to Verma, “The remedy lies in prevention. We use of appropriate tools to assess whether people with particular sets of values should be considered for the organisation or not really helps. However, certain initiatives that are essential to immunise the organisation from the negative impact include maintaining contact with employees at professional as well as emotional level, enhancing their value and providing growth opportunities and while dealing with cases of indiscipline, providing sufficient counselling sessions to employees to correct their behaviour.”
   Phadke too concurs and adds, “Negativity begets negativity and it’s essential to have a positive atmosphere within the organisation. We have frequent ‘Town-Halls’ where the top management discusses pertinent issues and news with the employees, as well as skip-level meetings for team heads to interact with the employees not directly reporting to them.”
   Similarly, at Piramal Healthcare, negative vibes - particularly on a lack of integrity - are dealt with very seriously. Politicking, using foul language or sexual harassment cases are dealt with immediately. “We have a strong foundation for employees who live our three values of Gyana (knowledge), Karma (dynamic action and entrepreneurship) and Bhakti (devotion to a higher purpose) and we actively discuss instances where these values were applied,” adds Dr Swati Piramal, Director - Strategic Alliances and Communication, Piramal Healthcare.
   Though conflicts and feelings of discontentment within a team are inevitable, these should not escalate to a hazardous level. Problems can be solved if dealt with in the initial phase and with maturity since it’s all about working together and working in harmony.

 

yasmin.taj@timesgroup.com

 

Courtesy : Times of India

 

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