Why Don’t Your People Work Together?

In almost every organization I worked in there were people who for one reason or another didn’t want to work with everyone else. They looked out for themselves and no one else. I resented it.

In fact, the word “sabotage” dates from the Industrial Revolution. It is said that powered looms could be damaged by angry or disgruntled workers throwing their wooden shoes or clogs (known in French as sabots, hence the term Sabotage) into the machinery, effectively clogging the machinery. In a Business Week article from August 2009, it was reported that less than 30% of corporate workers really care about their jobs — and nearly 20% actually want to undermine their co-workers, according to a Gallup study.

Jonathan Littman & Marc Hershon say in their book I Hate People, “Teamwork suffocates creativity and has its own limitations.” They describe the Ringlemann effect, named for a French agricultural engineer who experimented with groups of workers nearly a century ago. He noticed that a person works harder alone than as part of a group. Ringelmann dubbed the phenomenon “social loafing.” What it means in the real world say Messrs. Littman and Hershon, is “the more people you throw at a problem, the less each contributes.”

That doesn’t diminish my desire to create great teams for discussing ideas or short-term projects.  JC Penney said, ” The best teamwork comes from men who are working independently toward one goal in unison.”

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1 Response to “Why Don’t Your People Work Together?”


  1. 1 Dennis Snow December 11, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Often when someone says, “You’re not being a team player,” what they really mean is “You’re not doing things MY way.” Sometimes the concept of teamwork is used as a hammer to achieve conformance instead of a better overall outcome.


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