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Dec-03-2012 14:26printcomments

Does Team-Creep Breed Conformity?

The climate to induce progress must be handled gingerly.

Soldiers goose step

(SALEM) - Is being a "team player" an abject surrender of your individuality? Sometimes that thought creeps into the pondering part of my cranium in search of resolution. This is particularly a front-and-center issue in many workplaces. Your supervisor may use the pretext of "teamwork" to stifle dissent. In the vernacular, it's considered a foul deed to want to "upset the applecart" or "rock the boat". They'd rather make you walk the plank. When a person is hired--contrary to common belief--it may not be based on skills alone.

That may just be a small part of the equation. You are invisibly being rated on how well you'll blend in with the incumbent work force. No boss is seeking a mind so independent that he or she will be vigorously challenged. In a church setting, that's called "heresy". The status quo may be one of stagnation in a given company, but that situation does not necessarily mean that top management will aggressively seek a paradigm shift. It is easy to confuse stability with stagnancy. And those more veteran workers will cling to their prerogatives as though it were candy being extricated. The climate to induce progress must be handled gingerly.

Co-workers need to buy in to seeing the potential benefits. Treating people like pawns on a chessboard can box in the results being sought. Strategic planning ultimately involves all the players. Therefore, "team-think" must strike a balance between uniformity and a u-turn if needed. Old habits often die hard. It may take a calamity to break loose and free up thinking.

Individual initiative has its value so long as peers aren't fearful. In the words of Elvis, things may need to be "all shook up!" If not, the place will belong to the hound dogs, and every so often the workers will be thrown a bone.


NOTE: Lee Coyne has transitioned through three careers: writer, educator, and medical social worker. Forty years of that seasoning brought forth the observations above. Send him an email at: Community Writer Barry Lee Coyne brings to our readers stories from his combined career of journalism and gerontology, and explains that these paths shaped his values. Lee Coyne once worked for The Civil Service Leader in NY State and covered the Legislature. He has also done features on mediation and arbitration, and believes in healthy skepticism. This writer-therapist often views the world as the masks of comedy and tragedy placed upon the scales of justice. For him, optimism inevitably wins. "Lyrical Lee" has traveled to 30 nations aboard and was once a press intern at the UN. His first published article was in The NY Daily News in '59, dealing with the need for integrity in public office.

He also launched the nation's first tele-conference on health education for shut-ins, created the Eldermentors project in VA to pair retirees with immigrant students needing role models, and was the main catalyst behind CCTV's "Public Public" panel show here in Salem. Lee received his BA in International Relations and an MSW in community organization. He currently serves as a member of Salem's Library Advisory Board. To send Lee an email, please write to this address:




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