Friday, March 13, 2020

Microstory 1320: Team Dynamics

Food and Health Department Head: Thank you for coming in one more time. I know it’s been a long process.
Communications Major: It has, but it’s okay. I only a few days ago gave my current employer my two weeks’ notice. Though, to be honest, I’m a little worried. I was told unofficially that I had a position here already. Should my boss again?
F&H Head: Oh no, definitely not. You have a position here. We just need to find you a good fit. That’s what this final step is for. It’s a suitability interview.
Comms Major: I’m not a hundred percent sure what that means.
F&H Head: We presently have four teams you could be placed with. You might be working in the Agriculture section, or with the Biomedical section, because of your scientific background.
Comms Major: I wouldn’t say I had a scientific background. I took a few science classes in college.
F&H Head: Did you take any engineering or robotics?
Comms Major: No.
F&H Head: Then F&H it is. Did the other interviewers tell you a little bit about how we do things here?
Comms Major: Only a little. I understand you operate in small teams, each of which is always the same size?
F&H Head: That’s right. There’s a reason why the few science classes you took are relevant. We want you to be able to communicate effectively with the rest of your team. You don’t have to be a field expert, but you have to have some idea what the others are talking about when you’re discussing the topics. Each team is composed of a Leader, a Researcher, a Communicator—that will be you—a Mediator, and a Writer.
Comms Major: Oh, okay. Interesting.
F&H Head: They did studies, and found that the best teams are based on diversity of skill. There are five skills, so each of them plays to the strengths of each team member. If you were particularly good at researching new topics, but also a really great leader, you might not do well in this organization, because we’re designed for permanent placement. There aren’t a whole lot of promotions going on here, because everyone is assigned to contribute in a particular way. I believe you went over that in the other interviews?
Comms Major: They did. I found that quite intriguing. It sounds like you have a robust merit increase program, but people aren’t meant to move up the ranks.
F&H Head: This is true. I was hired externally, as is most of the other higher level leadership. Some people don’t really care for that. They’re ambitious, and they think, if they’re good enough, they should be able to move up. But all you should truly care about is the success of the magazine, the positive impact we have on our readers, and the money you make that allows you to be happy in your personal life. It’s a radical stance, but it’s been working for us for the last three years.
Comms Major: Yeah, I love this magazine, but I had no idea it was organized so differently. Can you tell me more about how the teams work?
F&H Head: Well, obviously the Researcher and Writer are responsible for laying out the content in each article. They’re the ones who have to be field experts. The Communicator and Mediator have similar duties to each other, but we think you’re better suited to round up all the experts your team will have to talk to, while someone else handles the discussions themselves. We’re not opposed to you and the Mediator trading responsibilities now and then, though, or blending them together a little. It all depends on which team you’re on, and who you’re working with. This is all about group cohesion. Like I was saying about those studies, teams aren’t successful as long as everybody is smart, or even qualified. The most successful teams are the ones where everybody is good at something the others are not. Does that make sense?
Comms Major: It does. So, how do we decide which team I would be able to help the most?
F&H Head: We have to go meet them. Follow me.

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