How to Create a Culture of Teamwork at Your Company


Neelam Afzal
Program Officer HR section

SRSO-Micro Finance Services Sukkur


How to Create a Culture of Teamwork at Your Company

When you take a group of independently talented people and create a team in which they can merge their talents, not only will a remarkable amount of energy and creativity be released, but their performance, loyalty and engagement will be greatly improved.

Here are five steps for building an extraordinary team culture:

  1. Create a team-oriented organization

Make teamwork one of your core company values, and put a clear emphasis on self-managing teams that are empowered to make their own decisions. Don’t just talk about teamwork. Show your employees the seriousness of your commitment by giving teams the authority to get their jobs done on own terms.

  1. Assign serious team goals

Give your teams really important projects, not just planning for next summer’s annual company picnic. Bring teams in when you’re looking at new trends in the market, or need to see things through new eyes. It’s important to mix it up and not have the same people making the same decisions all the time. Ask them to challenge the status quo and the conventional wisdom. This will help to keep your company fresh and ahead of the game.

  1. Encourage informal teams

More work in organizations is accomplished through informal teams than formal ones. It’s therefore in your interest to encourage the proliferation of informal teams throughout your company, addressing any and all issues and opportunities that capture their interest. When your employees are able to tackle concerns themselves, without elevating every little decision to top management, you’ll have a much more efficient organization.

  1. Cross-train employees

When employees understand how different areas of the company work, they are more apt to make decisions that benefit the company as a whole, rather than solely their own department or group. Give your employees the opportunity to learn other people’s jobs. They’ll have a new appreciation for what your regular employees go through on the job.

  1. Provide team resources

No matter how talented a company’s individuals might be, teams cannot be successful without the proper resources. Teams need a designated and available place where they can regularly meet. Nothing much can be achieved in an over-crowded lunch room. All employees need to be given adequate time to devote to their team meetings, with no grief from supervisors. And make sure to supply your teams with an appropriate budget if required, and the permission–with guidance–to spend it as they see best for the company.

Written By: Neelam Muhammad Afzal (Senior Program Office HR-SINDH RURAL SUPPORT ORGAIZATION-Sukkur Sindh)


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How to Vanquish Negativity from Your Workplace throughappreciative inquiry coach

Krishnan Bangaruswamy

Director – Human Resources

Omega Healthcare

How to Vanquish Negativity from Your Workplace through appreciative inquiry coach

Appreciative inquiry (AI) is a model that seeks to engage stakeholders in self-determined change. AI revolutionized the field of organization development and was a precursor to the rise of positive organization studies and the strengths based movement in American management.

The saints and the noble souls knew it. Our great ancestors knew it. All successful great leaders knew it. Now, it is time for us –corporate managers –to know!

Imagine this scenario: You are a successful manager in a modern business. But, are you an Appreciative Inquiry coach? As an exceptional manager managing even large teams, you deal with a plethora of problems; often, you –as a manager – are expected to provide both solutions and results. You are perceived as a provider, a role model, and even a champion. At times, you are also expected to be able to drum-up something akin to a panacea for all the business’ troubles.

So, what is the reality? In the ever-volatile theatre of the business world, the reality is that you are as new to the challenges as they are to your organisation. Most of the time you face these challenges like a gladiator – taking them by the horns. Relatively isolated, you make your decisions, and progress based on the rationale and best interests of the organisation, clear only to you. You see your team and yourself as a guerrilla unit forming a phalanx to take on the challenge, and you use every single resource to problem-solve, set a direction and align to the organisational goals and desired business solutions (that you perceive). In many ways, you’re in survival mode. You leverage all your team members’ fullest potential…draining every last drop of plasma and platelets… using your time-tested methodology of critical thinking and questioning.

There is nothing wrong with such an approach, as long as it’s understood that the outcome can be determined by various factors. The real challenges are usually intrinsic to the technique. These can be in the form of burnt-out and de-motivated team members, singed in the course of the emotional transactions.

Appreciative inquiry (AI) is a model that seeks to engage stakeholders in self-determined change and vanquish negativity in the organisation. AI revolutionized the field of organization development and was a precursor to the rise of positive organization studies and the strengths based movement in American management. Its authors posited that the overuse of “problem solving” hampered any kind of social improvement, and what was needed were new methods of inquiry that would help generate new ideas and models for how to organize. AI was developed at Case Western Reserve University’s department of organizational behavior. [Bushe, G.R. (2013), Cooperrider, D.L. &Srivastva, S. (1987)].

You risk being labelled an unrealistic task-master, irrespective of the reasonable standards and expectations that you have. So, one thinks, if all this is known to the corporate boffins, how does this situation repeat itself every single time and for almost every new assignment across industries? What are the possible causes and importantly how do we deal with them?

Most of the time such side-effects are a direct result of your transactions with your team members and chiefly during your feedback in appraisals, performance improvement and expectation!

Some interesting data published by a global governing HR body observes that on an average there are 13 criticisms during an appraisal and in general, 33% of the time they have a negative impact on performance! You might say, as angst-ridden as these data points might sound, the fact of the matter is your subordinates need to be told what they need to be told. Especially when we are dealing with tight a deadline – which in a corporate world is every time – you expect them to have the maturity to accept your lack of finesse and get-on-with-the-job!

Coaching to the Rescue

This is where your coaching – the AI way – comes in very handy. AI considers the ‘best in people, their organisation and the world around them’. Its 4 stages or the 4Ds: Discovery – Conversations about possibilities; Dreaming – Ideas and stories for the future and what might be; Designing – Asserting the ambitions into plans for the future; Delivery – action planning around specific activities, tasks and processes, isolate problems, failures and other negative factors (which it abhors), in favour ‘success’ (which it espouses)!

While AI can be employed by anyone who is managing a team, the technique through which we employ and deliver this concept should be coaching!

Appreciate, because it appreciates!

Coaching is a widespread aspect of HR and management practice. Its power to change ‘mindsets’ and to propel action is widely appreciated in organisations. There are many coaching techniques that can be employed; one such is GROW – Goal, Reality, Options available and Way forward. A reflection from our side would help us to realise we can employ this kind of coaching technique in each of the D stages of AI. The only key here is, we employ Appreciation all the way through. It does not necessarily mean we will only talk about what works; rather how we can make it work by leveraging strengths.

All through the ages, the wise men, the noble souls realised and understood the power of Coaching – the appreciative way. We have examples all through ranging from mythology to successful leaders and our great ancestors and our very own parents taking this route.

Be appreciative and thankful

In more down-to-earth terms, business guru Robin Sharma states, “Identify your strengths and be the best in what you do”.

Many organisations employ such techniques and evolve the tools to support the managers in their coaching efforts. Gallup’s Strength Finders is a good tool that managers can employ to identify the strengths of their team members which, once known, can be used to bring out the best in them using coaching techniques. There are various bodies which can train you in your coaching skills including the International Coaching Federation (ICF), and the European Mentoring and Coaching Council. Such governing bodies of coaching have professional certification programs to build your key coaching skills including listening, appreciating and drawing the best of people to make them realise their fullest potential. Remember, coaching can be used to improve poor performance but coaching – the appreciative way –can help in building good performance.

At a time when corporate managers are faced with stiff challenges with  ever- growing pressure from competition, globalization and complexity involved in managing and leading an increasingly-diversified knowledge based workforce, it is up to us to realise that an opportunity presents itself to everyone in everything. If we fail to appreciate people around us for what they are, then we still may be successful managers but could fail terribly as leaders. Every time we interact with our team members it is an opportunity for us to coach them the appreciative way!

“…to identify the strengths of their team members which, once known, can be used to bring out the best in them using coaching techniques…”

So let us take the words of the wise men – Appreciate your way to vanquish the negativity in your organisation!


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Manage your Behavior to Manage Impressions



Preethi Paranjee

Preeti Paranjpe works as Manager – CBE (Centre for Behavioral Excellence), Talent Transformation,

Wipro Technologies

Manage your Behavior to Manage Impressions

I recently got a feedback from my senior that I had poor networking skills. I was surprised and wanted to know more. As he is also my mentor, I set up a meeting with him and expressed my wish to understand what made him say so and how can I improve.He gave me examples of how I had missed out on opportunities to connect with stakeholders who matter, pointing out the significance of such touchpoints in forming the right impressions. While the discussion went smooth, I was justifying and defending myself at times during the discussion, as I thought I had been doing enough to establish connect. Clearly my intent of connecting and what I did about it, had not worked. What was appreciable was how he gave me tips on modifying my behaviors to modify the impressions that had got created.

Sometimes even such constructive feedback and tips can be confusing and disturbing. We might think ‘Did I really do / not do that?’  Chances are that we are unaware of how our behavior is constantly shaping perceptions in the minds of others. Such perceptions are quick judgements we make based on what we observe and experience about others. Sadly, they can take a long time to change. When my senior told me that one internal customer commented ‘Preeti seems busy these days’, I realized that the impression I may have created is that ‘I am busy and do not have time for you at present’. Not one of the best perceptions to leave in the mind of a customer! My lack of awareness of this and some other instances, made me think about how this could mar the efforts I am making to create a positive impression at workplace. It took me a couple of months to eventually accept the given feedback and start working on it. The acceptance came through only when I was able to answer these questions:

  • What impressions, perceptions do I want to create on people around me at workplace?
  • Am I communicating and behaving in a way which will form those impressions?
  • What is the gap, if any, and how do I fill it? What should I change?

The above answers are difficult to articulate, but not impossible to figure out. I found that I wanted to be seen as an approachable and competent colleague, who is quick in her work and provides value to others through every interaction. Answering the second question was an eye-opener. It made me realize that I had established myself enough to be trusted with major projects, but few conversations with my colleagues did not always go well.  My tone with them was sometimes sharp, if I observed lack of speed in work or the deviation of a process. This left them hurt. I was also not proactively seeking meetings and interactions with them and some important internal customers. Gulping down all the frustration that came with these insights, I got down to listing how I should change my behaviors to change the impressions about me.

How easy is it to changeour behavior? Easy if we identify the purpose behind it, find theright approach and make the necessary effort. However, it can be tough if we do not believe current behavior is causing problems and needs to change. Let us look at what can help to identify the need for change and what steps need to be taken to create a lasting appropriate change in behavior:

  1. Be aware of your behavior:

Contemplate on your performance, skills and relationships – Is there something amiss? Is there some feedback you are instantly rejecting? Does it seem like an effort to move out of your comfort zone and do something different? If you answered ‘yes’ to even one of these questions, thenit’s possible that you are experiencing some amount of anxiety or discomfort in that area of your life. The first step is to commit to replace these emotions with acceptance and hope by setting goals to improve yourself. Awareness of unhelpful behaviors helps to know their impact on yourself and others. For example, I identified my impatience with few co-workers as a stressor, and understood the negative impact and impression that was left on them.

  1. Motivate yourself and set goals:

A further awareness can be about what you say and do that reinforces the current unwanted behavior. My impatience was apparent in my tone and expectations. How can I change that? I visualized how it would be to have a friendly and meaningful relationship with one colleague with whom I behaved in this way. I imagined her giving me positive feedback related to the question – what impressions, perceptions do I want to create. This motivated me and helped me to set a goal to watch my tone every single time I spoke to her next. I also made a note of how I would move out of my comfort zone and set up more meetings to network with colleagues and customers. Scheduling it in my diary was a way to commit and make it happen.

  1. Learn the new behavior, practice it:

Learning skills is rarely a wasted effort. I had learnt voice modulation in a behavioral skills class and decided to utilize the skill of sounding firm and confident, but not aggressive. It took some practice, but testing it on a friendly neighbor helped me to get feedback and stay on track!

It took me great effort to reconnect with some of my stakeholders whom I had not met for months. A couple of them had forgotten my name too! Drafting some common conversation openers and persisting to get appointments and being more social than I am, pushed me out of my comfort zone.

It could be a good four to six weeks till I get habituated to the new behaviors. But a slight discomforting consistent practice is better than being written off as a promising colleague and professional! When negative results of our behavior make us sad, generating a positive reinforcement in the form of self-affirmation (‘I can do this’) or giving yourself a reward helps!

How people perceive us through a collection of impressions and perceptions adds to their understanding of us as an individual. On identifying unfavorable perceptions through feedback or observation, look at what is causing them.  Work on the parts of your behavior that you can change, to change how they experience you. A concerted effort will yield results, and you will see a lesser gap in how you want to be perceived, and how you are!


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HR Practitioner, Are You Ready to Wear Multiple Hats ?

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Surya Prakash Mohapatra

Global Leader- Resource Enablement,

HP Inc.

Role of HR Practitioner is Evolving

HR function is going through a metamorphosis. As we moved from the industrial economy to a knowledge economy, HR shed its industrial relations and personnel management tag. HR which was a ‘support function to the business’ was elevated to the ‘enabling function status’ in the later years. Today HR is not just an enabler for the business from outside. It is actually an inextricable part of the business itself. How have these changes shaped your role as an HR practitioner? In the past, the HR practitioner merely played the role of a policy maker and enforcer. Today the role has expanded. As an HR practitioner, you are now expected to wear multiple hats. Let’s take a look at these hats:-

  1. Brand Ambassador

Today prospective job applicants would look at your company profile as well as your profile on LinkedIn before making a decision to apply for a job in your organization. In order to attract and retain talent, you need to build the employer brand of your organization. Some recent studies have reported that 84% of passive candidates would consider leaving their current employer for a company with an excellent reputation. Google receives on an average about 140 applications per vacancy. 79% of new hires at Edward Jones come through employee referral.These statistics underscore the importance of employer branding. As the HR leader you are a key influencer when it comes to employer branding for your organization. J.T. O’Donnell, CEO of Cereerealism says, “If your marketing department is trying to find new ways to connect with customers, the answer might lie down the hallway in your HR department.”

  1. Business Strategist

The CHRO is no longer the Chief Adviser to the CEO. Rather he is the chief strategist for his CEO. In today’s knowledge economy, human capital is the most valuable asset. Attracting, hiring, retaining and unleashing talent in the most efficient and effective manner to drive organizational goals is going to be a key component of future business strategies and the HR function is going to play a key role in driving this. Remember, you are no longer a strategy enabler. Today you are a strategy accelerator with clear accountability for execution and results.


  1. Technology Expert

Technology is all pervasive today. So HR cannot but embrace it. Technology has touched all facets of HR today including recruitment, learning and development, employee engagement, employee communication, employee life cycle management and so on. As a HR leader, you need to stay in touch with advances in technology. HR leaders should have the acumen to leverage the right technology to make their workforce more productive and their people processes more effective, efficient and seamless. Do read my article,“Touching lives through Technology”published by SHRMlast year. In this article, you would find various examples of HR technology in use to improve employee experience.

  1. Design Thinker

HR leaders should move from process thinking to design thinking. Design Thinking, when used effectively can be leveraged to solve problems or create new solutions. The beauty of this technique is that it keeps the customers or end-users (employees in your case) at the center stage. You can use design thinking to create positive experiences for people, drive engagement, efficiency, productivity, talent retention etc. HR initiatives without taking into account the needs and expectations of employees will only lead to half-hearted efforts and ineffective results.

  1. Culture Shaper

One of the biggest competitive advantages and key differentiators for an organization is its culture. Lou Gerstner, former CEO and Chairman of IBM in his bookWho says Elephants Can’t Dance?says,“I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game – it is the game.” While the senior leaders in the organization are instrumental in shaping the culture, the HR leader among them plays the most important role. Before working on the culture, as the HR leader you must ask yourself, “What is the vision of my organization?” And then determine what values, behaviours, practices, processes, systems etc. you need to have in place in alignment with this vision. Once they are defined, you can then work towards making these elements part of your organization’s DNA. You may think it is easier said than done. But there is no short-cut to culture building.


  1. Data Scientist

HR Analytics is a hot topic today. HR leaders now can leverage analytics to take well informed data driven smart decisions leading to improved productivity, improved ROI, increased revenue, cost reduction etc. Analytics in HR can help you hire the right talent at the right speed, retain your most valued employees, provide relevant and effective training, drive collaboration and so on. You can leverage predictive analytics to know which employees may leave your company in near future, which training programs can improve business performance, which initiatives can drive employee engagement and many more aspects about their workforce.


  1. Facilitator of Interactions

In the knowledge economy, Knowledge is dynamic and critical to an organization’s success. Employees need to keep upgrading their knowledge all the time. HR and L&D practitioners, themselves cannot cater to this dynamic need of their workforce. But what they can do is build an eco-system and create context where employees can discover who to collaborate with in order to gain knowledge and develop capabilities. The eco-system must include all relevant people, processes and tools to drive collaborative learning in the organization. Social, informal and community based learning would become key elements of this eco-system. HR leaders like you would take on the responsibility of facilitatinginteractions among employees and ensure that these interactions become intrinsic to the way their organization functions.

Are you ready?

Hooh ! ! So many hats on you!! Wearing multiple hats is not going to be easy for the HR practitioner. The role will have its challenges and complexities. However, at the same time it will have its fair share of excitement also. Dealing with the challenges and complexities would require the right mind-set, skill-set and tool-set for the HR practitioner. Are you ready for the transformation? I assume the answer is ‘yes’.

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Live Thy Dreams!!!


Anita Simson

Manager – Human Resources

Towell Mattress & Furniture Industry

Live Thy Dreams!

Dreams are the most powerful source of energy! Time and again you must have come across this catchphrase. You may have heard this n’ no. of times… yet shown some reluctance to believe it. Seriously- have you believed it truly, wholly and utterly? And if yes, how far have you believed it and tried to live your dreams?

Being skeptical on deeming that dreams are not to be dreamt and realized; but just to fantasize… is a most common notion.

‘Dreams’… let’s keep the word as dreams. I do not want to use any of its synonyms, as for the simple reason- it sounds so serene, so pure and thus no other word will complement the feeling so beautifully. I honestly do not want to use any other synonyms for dreams. As this word is big enough, beautiful enough and heroic enough to portray and demonstrate what it is meant for. So let’s address it as ‘dreams’ only… it’s phenomenal.

Dreams- what are they?  A few responses derived to this question are:-

  • Have dreams…. It’s a wonderful feeling.
  • It’s just a dream… can’t imagine of bringing them into life.
  • Had dreams…. Got frustrated in the process of realizing them.
  • Wake up and work towards its.
  • A step towards your ambition.
  • What a waste of time? Just get into some action…

According to me, my experience says that it may have several definitions or ideas; but it yields surefire results. It’s all about taking the baton in your hands- primarily, to dream big, believe strongly and then to shaping it up into realization. When the word

‘Dream’ strikes- for me… is – Dare to dream and most importantly ‘Live thy dreams’!

Dream big and dream more… this substantiates your living. Dreams help you stay alive. You know that you need to attain this dream and you strive in the right direction. Yes, moving in the right direction is significantly important than simply moving. See it, feel it, touch it and hold it… and realize you are very much on the right direction. Sooner or later, your dreams, if executed well, will materialize and will start feeling the sense of achievement… and you will live it. Let it not die and let it not turn into illusion.

If you don’t take your dreams seriously; personally- chances are high that you won’t bother to fulfill it. And after years you will regret for not doing so. Dreams are very personal… it sounds and looks big- when it is backed-up with your effort, exertion and determination. Better try than regret and time has always proven that sincere tries always win.

Having dreams make you sound like a forward looking professional. You, being in any profession, should be having an enduring vision and a clear path for your development. Being a forward looking personnel, helps you to be future proofing and incites you to understand the market scenario, instigates you to be competitive, prompts you to be knowledgeable and arouses you to stand ahead in the business world.

Someone recently asked me: Is there anything wrong, if my dreams change every day?

Here, he was pointing out his dreams, as his ambitions in life keeps changing every now and then. Do you think this sounds as a weakness?

What’s your take on this?

For me- keep dreaming and keep dreaming more… more in your platter empowers you with choices. It’s very much acceptable to keep changing your dreams- change in your dreams portrays that you are very much living and only a living person can imagine and aspire differently. One without a dream is just existing and not living. It’s like an ocean having waves every now and then and thanks for not being the stagnant water pond- where no life exists. Here, if you keep a persistence of dreaming and dreaming big, I need not tell you the difference of just existing and living. Your dreams needs to change and you need to dream every day. It shows you as living and wanting to do various things. Once you have platter full of things, you will ultimately move into the right direction and at least achieve some of the things that you were dreaming of. So, no dreams is no drives and thus no life. Don’t stop dreaming. Keep your dreams alive… this will take you far ahead.

Dreaming is a waste of time… My dreams were never fulfilled? … Another question.

This totally sounds like a frustrated struggler; who had strived but in vein. No positive talks can correct him. Here, a short story of a butterfly caught up in a room and wanting to fly out would at least help the person find some light at the end of his tunnel. It was a dark room and the only light coming in was from the outside glittering world… the butterfly pushes himself hard to fly out to the direction he could see the glitters’ but every time it bangs on some surface and falls down. Little, did he know that he was trying his hard luck every time on a glass wall? He tried persistently, sincerely and with all the desire to be out, but he failed. Finally, it died not even realizing that there was a wide door open at his back; from where he could easily fly out.

What was the reason of its failure?  Less effort, no will or giving up attitude?

No, he had strived hard and we can believe that he had all the quality to reach the external world. But had he put all his effort to change his direction he would have succeeded. When you fail for the first time, second or be it a consistent practice… take two-three steps backward and put a considerable thought on your actions, your directions and your dimensions… stop and identify what you lack and where you go wrong. When you could change this; chances are great that your results will also change. It’s simply the theory of ‘Cause and Effect’.

This context probes me to the wise old saying … ‘Where there is a will; there is a way’-quite dreamy line- isn’t it?? And very true, but with an extension would sound more practical- ‘Where there is a will; there is a way- If not, create one!’ Yes… now it is a living line. It’s very much true that in order to reap the benefits- only ‘will’ doesn’t help; you need to find a way or construct a way. The exercise from dreaming to the living makes it more mighty, more weighty and thus more beautiful. Now, this is what is dream for me! Live thy dreams!

I realized what it means to be a forward looking and wearing the HR hat, it’s one more added feather to be a ‘Forward Looking HR. Undeniably & unquestionably, a fine HR habit to be developed.

I would not want to stop now from looking ahead… I am unstoppable! I am living my dreams and you should live yours.





























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TRANSCENDENCE…the evolution of Transformation


Frederick Reynecke

International Organizational Change Management Institute


TRANSCENDENCE…the evolution of Transformation

It’s got to be one of the biggest frustrations of the last 20 years. This fallacy about transformation has got to STOP.

Of the ‘transformations’ I’ve known and read about, few actually transcended the organization’s operating model, few had clear intentions to transcend outdated business processes, value-chains or social/environmental attitudes.

Remarkable right? But sadly that’s been the truth. Perhaps the instances where system integrator contracts have been cancelled is where the client’s hope was transcendence, not just transformation, and the SI didn’t have that as part of their scope.

Transcendent IT Strategies means getting ahead in the game, not just implementing new technology for the sake of reducing the risk of archaic IT systems, but rather to leap-frog competition by transcending operating models and Function Oriented Architecture. I think when companies like SAP marketed it’s ERP products, they were hoping the market would use SAP projects to truly get ahead in the market place, not just replace legacy systems, doing things the same way.

Cloud Applications are now going to force Transcendence, literally (Perhaps figuratively too) upwards to cloud applications.  Cloud applications are pure in the sense that they have a clear start and clear value-delivery.

Take online recruitment for example. Position becomes flagged as future vacant, vacancy goes online, spreads through for example ‘LinkedIN’ and provides a portal for candidate applications. The hiring manager can vet the CV’s – value is delivered. Where is HR?

So this is really an exciting time for organizations starting up or looking to grow their success. What it means basically is that organizations are going to be forced to get extremely lean and run on Cloud Users alone. Big organizations may not be able to do that as quickly as what small organizations can. I reckon the Fortune 500 cycle is going to spin…

When Charlie Chaplin wrote “A Cog in the Machine” perhaps it could now be a metaphor, and renamed “A User in the Cloud”.


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