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HOW TO BE A GROUP

It is often an issue whether a company works as a group and how compact this is. The question does not imply, whether there are differences between the employer and the employees or whether these can be bridged but whether the cooperation between different departments is getting along well. Or even the cooperation between members of the staff. Phrases like “we are a group…”, “our group succeeded this…” or “trust our group” etc, sometimes raise suspicions whether it is true that the so-called group does really exists!

Let’s take some examples where the absence of the group mentality is more than obvious: A) The company participates in an exhibition. The preparation and representation mainly concerns the Sales department. But this does not mean that the other departments should remain indifferent. For example, the warehouse personnel should not consider the exhibition “a Sales’ business only”. True, the Sales personnel will be present in the exhibition, will dedicate extra time for the preparation of the exhibits, but … the Sales colleagues will represent the whole company and consequently all their fellow employees. Β) The company closes a deal with a big customer. Again, this is not the Sales department’s business only, but affects the whole company since everybody contributed to the enterprise image that affected the customer positively and since all the departments will have a share to the customer’s service. C) the company achieves the representation of a big manufacturer. This is not a concern of the Purchasing department only but affects other departments as well: the Warehouse, for one, that must find the space and the way to stock the new goods, the Sales department that must sell them and the Commercial that must decide the prices.

Nevertheless, setting up and maintaining a group is not such an easy a task. How could we set up a group when, objectively, the people working in a business have various ages and different backgrounds? How could there be a group when each one has his/her own concerns – economic, family, health sometimes etc and faces his/her job as an individual task, that helps overcoming the everyday needs? Particularly under the economic and financial conditions that emerged during the last decade, the “work” has turned into quite an introvert task. To face this introversion and to promote the cooperation between the employees, it is helpful to rationalize the workflow or, to put it more precisely, to rationally approach the style we work with. This implies that it is for the benefit of the employee to support his/her colleague in the best possible way, increasing this way the possibility of a successful outcome of the specific task, on the grounds that the personal profit comes through the group profit. All this profit talk must involve bonuses and rewards by the company Management. Should there be no such rewards, the employee will conclude that there is no meaning in supporting the group he has no profit from (slapping the shoulder tends not to be considered a reward). Therefore, it is clear that the creation of a – professional- team, concerning the organization and the principles, depends fully on the Management. It is possible, on the other hand, that the employees set up groups, over time, based mainly on common hobbies, or simply good character chemistry, but which in no case, could be considered professional. They are simply groups operating on a friendly basis while the professional group we refer to, displays features like common vision, solid knowledge/understanding of the workflow among the group members, the conscious commitment for optimal results, inter-support/ inter-complementation (concerns the support among group members over technical knowledge, expertise, information, time management), the strong links among members and the psychological pride to be part of a group that functions in the optimal way.

On the other hand, the company may offer various rewards and bonuses but still be far from accomplishing the desired results, namely, a strong, well set, group operation. The reason could be that the company has not eradicated the introvert, individualistic approach of the work among personnel or that all the rewards and offers are interpreted by the employees as a sign of weakness, so to speak. Apparently, this is not the best approach, given the fact that in this case the employee resembles an -almost- external free-lancer who sells his work whenever needed (in such a case however, the company is, sort of, blowing up the idea of hiring personnel by turning it into external partners who get remunerated per project). Generally speaking however, it is good to avoid such situations by having the working frame and job descriptions clearly defined and also offer the whatever provisions or bonuses as a reward for successful function and effectiveness or as a gesture of gratitude and trust towards the employees, denoting this way, that they are considered the basic element of success.

But, except the issues related, this way or the other, with offers to the personnel, group strengthening depends on the flow of information between the Management and personnel. It is considered positive for the personnel to be kept posted about the goals of the company so that it both participates with higher effectiveness and provides the Management with fresh information. The message in this case is that the personnel is not just a tool executing tasks but an important contributor to decision making. Furthermore, it is important that the personnel is kept posted about the successes of the company: a new deal with a major customer, a deal for a new representation of a foreign manufacturer etc are examples of information that must be shared with the employees.

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