From individualism in the personal sphere to team play at work.
If I were to ask our parents, they would not remember the time when education went from a totally individualistic point of view, with the sole aim of passing exams by studying books, to group work in a 80% of subjects, because change rarely understands middle ground. People who have gone through a degree in the last 9 years, since the Bologna Plan was implemented, have had to deal with group work, with colleagues both chosen and not. Is that what prepares us for the relationships we will have in the world of work? Is that the way in which it has to be instilled that teamwork is necessary in professional environments?
Individualism has been gaining ground over teamwork. In ancient times, humankind was able to create organised groups that divided tasks (such as hunting, protecting, caring, cooking, praying) to achieve survival in the face of an ecosystem that was clearly superior to them. As soon as we allowed individuals with innovative capabilities (or perhaps simply more capacity to think outside the box) time away from more physical activities, improvements arose that allowed people to improve their conditions: the wheel, metal handling, etc.
Again, the implementation of the Big Data technologies has clarified why today's generations (all of them, not just Generation X and Millennials) have become increasingly individualistic: the article Social Structure, Infectious Diseases, Disasters, Secularism and the Culture of Change in America (Igor Grossmann and Michael E. W. Varnum, in the journal Psychological Science, 2015) summarises, with a macro study of data from 150 years ago, how the pre-eminence of individualism has evolved in all the strata that affect an individual (education, marketing, culture, etc.).
The article concludes that various factors indicate that we are much more individualistic and that companies' strategies also seek to make us more individualistic. Another cause of individualism is the rise of liberal professions: "The greater or lesser individualism of a society permeates everything: from marketing to design an election campaign to education. It conditions the things we buy, the messages of our politicians, the way we educate our children, whom we motivate either to increase their sense of belonging to the family or group, or to make them special or different from the rest," explains Grossman.
Are we drowning in self, neglecting collective help?
Is this worrying? Fortunately, this rise of individualism inadvertently reinforces the last stronghold where teamwork survives with greater intensity. Where does this occur? In the workplace: the excessive specialisation of professionals makes them capable, as experts, of carrying out specific tasks, but less competent when it comes to completing tasks that require more transversal profiles. In addition, the automation of certain processes that replace human beings also means that teamwork also includes the results of machines that help us to fine-tune results and, above all, save time. Teamwork is therefore essential and desirable in organisations.
From a Human Resources (HR) point of view, this is undeniable. The question about teamwork skills, or the knowledge of new methodologies that allow us to organise the steps of the team rigorously (such as agile methodologies) is essential for us in interviews. And more and more HR technicians are asking not only questions, but also teamwork dynamics to see the teamwork skills of the candidates. What can this translate into? In this sense, we go back to childhood with challenges that are similar to those we used to know in the camps: we have 4 people in a hot air balloon (a doctor, a politician, a teacher, a mother of 5 children and a garbage man), the balloon is going to crash into a mountain and you have to throw one of them away, who do you decide is dispensable? The HR technician has to distribute the roles among those present, so that they personalise their role. And during the simulation of the discussion, you will see leadership characteristics, submissive, incendiary, creative, individualistic or pacifist, which can be key within a team, or which are needed for certain jobs.
At Bosonit, these teamwork qualities are not only necessary for projects, but the more horizontal internal organisation encourages peer support, cross-departmental questions and an atmosphere that facilitates collaboration.
And we are very proud of this: not only does the need to work in teams create an atmosphere in which cooperation is necessary, but also day-to-day challenges, personal or otherwise, make this organisation a constant, pleasant and desirable team play. And you, what would you say if the human resources technician and the purchasing manager put you in the following situation? Colleagues, we have 30 bottles of champagne to buy on Thursday and they have to be cold by Friday. We don't have a fridge, they don't fit in separate houses, and it would be best if they were in the office..... Let the brainstorming begin - do you dare?
Article by María Díez, Talent recruiting at Bosonit. Linkedin
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