Good Teams Respect Members’ Unique Ways


After returning from a lean manufacturing workshop, Alfredo decided to standardize the office layout and work flow of his ten direct reports.

Alfredo said, “I designed a plan for each office including such things as location of the computer and mouse, chairs, working papers, storage of manual files and the like.”

Alfredo did the same for the conference room; he even laid down markers for the computer and laptop placements.

An employee said, “Yes, he did that and more.  Alfredo developed an inspection sheet and periodically checked to see if we were in compliance.  That’s not all.  In meetings, Alfredo projected a spreadsheet onto the screen with our names and scores.”

“I thought this would make us more efficient,” Alfredo said.

One employee said, “I’ didn’t mind it.  I always kept a clean desk and had a space for everything.”

Another differed, “I felt fenced in.   My work space may look like an anthropology dig but I know where everything is.  A rigidly, ordered work space distracts me.”

As you might guess, Alfredo’s utopian fantasy produced resistance and frustration.  Even worse, efficiency and teamwork plummeted.

The take-away:  whenever possible, allow individuals freedom in how they work.