Overly Secure Teams

Although job security is considered by most to be a good thing, some situations exist where overly secure teams are being cursed by too much of a good thing. Fredrick Herzberg noted that having too much job security can lead to uncommitted behaviour and a lack of effort on the part of team members and leaders alike. In short, the more job security a team perceives itself as having, the less motivated they become to perform. Knowing that no one is ever laid-off or terminated, no matter what their behaviour, also has a devastating impact on team morale.

Teams become overly secure for a number of reasons:

  • The organizational rules and traditions prohibit, or at least discourage, the firing of non-productive or disruptive employees.

  • The team leader is not held accountable by those higher in the system for building a high-performance team.

  • A strong union presence makes it difficult, if not impossible to hold employees accountable for a high level of productivity.

  • The team has been together for too long and has experienced decreased performance over time. This subtle slippage has gone undetected or unaddressed.

  • The team leader is too lenient and will overlook poor performance for the sake of keeping the peace.

Regardless of the reason, to improve team performance, team security must be reduced. The more drastic the intervention, the more energized team members are likely to become. Replacing the team leader will create large shockwaves through the team if the new leader is committed to facilitating rapid team improvement. Increased use of the progressive discipline system that leads to the termination of non-performing team members will also inspire increased performance on the part of remaining team members.

Being willing to go the distance to remediate or remove undesirable team members, even if it means bucking the union or confronting protective organizational rules, will also go far in convincing lackadaisical employees to increase their input and effort, understanding that the days of resting on one's laurels has passed.

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