Data Dome Resources – White Papers: Get Employees to Really Work Together for Productivity

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How to Get Your Employees to Really Work Together for Greater Productivity

An Interview between Competitive Edge! and Arthur G. Schoeck

What is the real solution to getting everyone to pull together as a team? How do we overcome those inevitable differences so that we are achieving maximum overall cooperation and profitability?

We recently spoke with Art Schoeck, the CEO of Data Dome, Inc. He is a communications expert and a specialist in behavioral strategy. His post-graduate research and years as a business owner have provided Art with a unique understanding of strategic business issues, and the steps necessary to improve internal communications and team building within organizations. Following are some of the answers and ideas that he shared with Competitive Edge!

CE: You have suggested that Team Engineering is one of the answers for improving overall productivity within a business - what is Team Engineering exactly?

AS: The term "Team Engineering" has been in use for a number of years as an extension of the concept of Team Building. To me, it means accurately assessing the behavioral strengths and weaknesses of each individual by means of computerized programs which give the most advanced behavioral profiles available. The goal is to come to a consensus within the team on what behaviors are most appropriate for each job or role within the team. By means of user-friendly computer programs and worksheets to help guide people, we try to gain understanding in the following three main areas:

  • The strengths and weaknesses of each individual
  • The differences between the people on the team
  • The best behaviors for each job or role within the team, and how each member fulfills those behavioral expectations.
The key to optimum performance is to develop an action plan to apply oneself most effectively to goals of the team, and to find ways to compensate for any inherent weaknesses.

CE: What are the main benefits of Team Engineering?

AS: As we work toward achieving our ultimate goals, the main benefits we encounter are:
  • Increased communication resulting in more efficient work and improved productivity;
  • Generation of consensus about each role on the team on an ongoing basis, resulting in continual improvement;
  • Goals becoming much more refined and the parameters of each role becoming more defined, not just in terms of required skills, but in terms of the behavior that is expected as well.

CE: To back up a few steps from this process, why do you think there seems to be so much disharmony among people who work together?

AS: People, primarily, still don't understand that not everyone sees the world the same way as they do. We all have different behavioral styles, some hereditary, some environmental. What our program does is help develop a system for understanding these differences and how to work within a team setting without taking things personally. Team members are taught a common language of communication which refers to the "job," not the "person." A team engineering exercise will include learning about the necessity for diversity of style and how to develop an appreciation for these differences.

In addition, companies generally do not talk about which behaviors are most appropriate; they lack a behavioral job description, which would greatly enhance a person's ability to get the real "feel" for the job much more quickly.

CE: In general, is it that difficult for people to understand the people they are working with?

AS: By going through the process of evaluation and follow up, people are able to understand this whole question of the differences between people and, once they are enlightened, typically want more! There is a wealth of knowledge and assessment tools available today which enable companies to truly help their employees. It is important to match the right tool to the needs of the companies. It is even more important that everyone understand that the purpose is not to use the tools against the employees, but rather to use them with the employees for their own benefit and progress. The tools will help them apply themselves to their jobs more effectively and this creates a real win-win situation for the employees and the company.

CE: Do you think that people really have a good understanding of their strengths and weaknesses?

AS: There is a very simple, but very effective process that employees can go through. The tools are so advanced these days and are readily available.

One process has them validate their own profile by marking the statements with which they agree, those about which they disagree, and those about which they are not sure. Then they take two additional copies and, without prodding, have two other people look at their profile and mark it in the same way. The results are very interesting because most people have blind spots (which is very normal). However, once these blind spots are pointed out, especially by more than one person or in more than one way, the person becomes aware of them, and generally, will compensate or work on overcoming the problem(s).

CE: Could you please point out some basic principles that companies should concentrate on in order to establish a more cohesive team spirit within their organization.

  • Keep communications lines open - even during decision making.
  • Don't be dictatorial; come to a consensus and make everyone's role clear from the beginning; then evaluate.
  • Be sure to align perceptions; make sure that everyone is on the same wavelength in relation to everyone else.

(Published in Competitive Edge!, March/April 1997)

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