Imagine a scenario in which a talented employee is the only member of the team. Soon, the need arises to add more members to the team. The new team is now less homogeneous than before and becomes what I suggest, “team alloy”.
Copper is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. The first talented team member is the copper metal. Copper is expensive and talented team members are expensive too. To reduce the cost we tend to make alloys of metals. For example, adding aluminum reduces the cost of kitchen utensils, but is not immune from salt and acidic food attacks. The conductivity of copper goes down as well because of the addition of aluminum. We gain and we lose. This is why balancing alloys is vital to keep alloys well balanced.
The above applies to teams. When we add a team member, we have to understand that we gain and we lose. The communication among the team members may reduce in quality and the team leader may find that his ability as conductor goes down.
Humans are like metals with differences in the ability to conduct. Extroverts vent their feelings more readily than introverts.
What adds to this issue is what Farroq Omar expressed in a comment “the arrangement isn’t really to simply pop the highest point of that champagne container of feelings and watch them shower everywhere. You probably won’t have the foggiest idea about what’s in there!”
The amazing word in the above comment is the use of the word arrangement. This reminded me of metals in alloys arrange and their applicability to team alloys.
Any impurity increases resistivity. When the metal differs, they form mechanical mixtures.
This is the challenge that leaders meet. Increasing resistivity raises the temperature of the team because of conflicts and differences further escalating its resistivity. This happens in “mechanical teams” with team members differing much in their attitudes, culture, and contributions.
The crystal lattice of an alloy lodges the atoms of both metals if the two metals are not widely different in certain attributes. This results in called solid solution alloy.
Teams of members not widely different in their traits have less intense arguments and are easier to manage. Complexity results in difficult teams to manage. It is like when metals combine and produce chemically combined alloy.
Impurity of intentions and bad behaviors lower the quality of team members and increase their resistance to accepting change.
It is true to shock loads resulting from many sources such as change of leader, entry of new competitor and low acceptance of customers to new products. These shocks are more difficult to handle if the team alloy is lacking homogeneity of understanding and agreement to a common goal. The leader has a higher responsibility to be the shock absorber.
The leader needs also to keep the flow of information and communication by team members. Resistance lowers flow and increases the production of intense arguments. Conflicts increase the thermal excitation of team members and leads to even greater resistance.
Leaders need to think carefully about the composition of their team alloys and purposefully add or remove team members.