How many of our team members, do you suppose, drove to work this morning, thinking, “I will come to work today and be lousy at my job”?
When things go wrong in work teams it’s tempting to blame the individuals.
We look to psychology. We try to address individual misbehaviour; we work on personalities and attitudes.
But there is nothing wrong with our people.
We have good people, with good intent and adequate resources.
Rather than asking “why is this person a bastard?” we should ask “what have we done to make them that way?”
The issue isn’t with how people think or behave (psychology), the issue lies in how people interact (sociology).
Many problems appear to show up in the form of individual misbehaviour, but decades of work on the personalities and attitudes of our people (greater personal insight, personality profiling, task matching) hasn’t delivered much in the way of organisational improvement or leadership effectiveness.
The problem is that our work is so badly designed as to defeat the best efforts even of psychologically insightful individuals.
(Hat tip to Elliot Jacques: In Praise of Hierarchy)