Don’t Waste Your Money on “Teamwork!”
The engineering team, comprised of several specialties, of a high tech firm was in disarray, morale problems were high, performance suffered, and retention was a major question. The business environment was difficult and the product was late.
The Attempted Solutions before calling Steven Feinberg, Inc: The CEO and VP of Engineering attempted to provide the engineers with interesting technical problems, social events to celebrate small wins and tried to respond to many requests to keep them happy. Things didn’t improve. The CEO and VP of Engineering requested a team-building exercise to improve morale hoping that would turn things around in the organization.
An initial assessment was performed and feedback provided to the CEO. The business climate was growing worse, the engineers had serious personality conflicts with each other, distrust, finger pointing and blame were the everyday realities. The recommendation was counter to what the executives expected.
First, the CEO was surprised when we advised them to not spend the money on the team-building exercise for the divisive group of engineers. As a general rule, it is important to hear what employees’ concerns are and engineers are usually very smart and insightful into the people issues even if they are not very skillful at dealing with the conflicts. However, the executives were being over-accommodating, bending over backwards with an open door policy that the engineers misused. Whenever they didn’t get their way, they would run to the next open door amongst the executives until someone would take up their cause whether or not it made good business or organizational sense. We advised the entire executive staff to stop taking up the individual causes and have the employees speak to one key executive when they had a complaint.
In addition, we pointed out that although they hadn’t said they were going to leave, we predicted they were all going to leave in a few months. Therefore, it would be a waste of time, money, and attention cycles to invest in a team-building exercise. In fact, as predicted, they did all leave within 6 months. The CEO said it was good sound advice–not to throw good money after a bad situation and then requested that we do other work that contributed to the organization.