For Something Special, Optimize Your Team for Harmony

Motivated, happy, teams get you something you want, but only teams in harmony get you something special

Filipe Silva

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Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

Talking with Your Manager, Fast and Slow

In the omnipresent tome of wisdom that is Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, we are presented with two modes of thinking. Making my best effort to not murder with simplification the life’s work of a Nobel laureate, it works like this: without noticing, we are either employing System 1, the fast talker, intuitive, sensitive and generator of impressions, or System 2, the calculating, careful, logic lover, and validator of impressions. System 1 is eager to help, System 2 is lazy. If you think this explains a lot about too many things, I know the feeling.

Now, let’s do a quick exercise. We are both talking at work and I ask you the question “How is the team?”. Quick now, think! What is your most immediate answer? Or, even more important, what are the gauges that you look at, in your imaginary team dashboard, that will inform your answer? If you are like me, you would, without a second thought, look at morale, followed by a close second, happiness.

That was System 1 talking and answering a very different question.

System 1 is so eager to help, so afraid to let us down, that it will do anything to get us a satisfactory answer. Including using a little trick called Intuitive Heuristic. When we are facing a difficult question, System 1 will answer an easier one instead. We don’t even notice it most of the time. So, when our manager asks us “how is the team going?”, we answer instead “how is the team morale?”, or “is the team happy?”. Which is much easier, right?

Morale and Happiness

I started answering with morale and happiness, but it’s when you define those concepts that you might notice something is missing. For example, it was only after scratching the surface for a bit that I understood that I saw morale as a team property and happiness as a “player” property. It’s also important to mention that morale and happiness could mean different things in another domain, but here I’m considering on purpose the specificity of the team…

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Filipe Silva

filipesilva.me — From software engineering to football coaching. This Week’s Worth💎is my weekly newsletter. Find it here: thisweeksworth.substack.com