Amsterdam Town Hall, image: www.amsterdam.nl
Over the past years through my work on team collaboration, I have been fascinated by the team dynamics that occur when the leadership team of a Corporate Function (i.e. Legal, IT, HR, Finance) comes together. Central to such dynamics is to understand how the pressure to deliver value to the end customer and to play a vital role in the company's value chain, creates challenges in collaboration.
But what about governmental organizations? Is the pressure to add value challenging only for private sector corporations?
On September 28th I had the pleasure to give the Masterclass “Organizational and Team Dynamics of Central Functions” at the Municipality of Amsterdam (Gemeente Amsterdam). Their central functions have formed a Strategic Network, which is looking into an effective and efficient way of organizing.
The Masterclass led us into a discussion of typical tensions functions face, such as:
We then explored typical Functional Team dynamics: Why does a team avoid coming to a decision? Or using long approval processes and KPI monitoring when it's less productive?
We connected these behaviours with unresolved organizational tensions, when team members have concerns and ambitions that they believe are at risk but don't have the space and time to explore those organizational dilemmas effectively. That's the moment when such dynamics show up.
The power of this approach is that it makes team members aware of how they approach their Strategy and Collaboration as it happens in the "here-and-now". And that allows to direct the conversation on identifying the Strategic gap, rather than staying with the team or individual behaviour.
The group was very engaged and brought many lively examples, they got inspired to think about their experiences in the organization from a strategic lens and to think of a way to steer Strategic decisions in their current journey. I learned that the challenges that came up were very comparable to the ones at the private corporate sector. But I also realized the unique experience connected to the sense of meaning and purpose of being part of a governmental organization and was amazed by the innovative space that the Strategic Network was created.
Some reactions on the Masterclass:
'Petros shows real insight in the dynamics that exemplify working in functions. It was like he had already witnessed us in action.', Anton van der Vloet, Manager Organisational Development
‘During the session we became aware of the way defences work. Of course we know defences in the behaviour of individuals, but now we became aware of social defence in groups and teams. They help people to cope with anxiety, but they can influence productivity in a negative way. A valuable insight when managing a team’. Patty Dessing, Advisor Organisational Development
Petros Oratis publishes regularly blogs with perspectives on leadership, organizations and team dynamics