In today’s workplace it is common for employees to work on multiple different teams, but how does this effect your employees and your organization?
Most companies engage in some form of multi-teaming, where employees are on multiple teams at the same time. Across industries, in organizations large and small, statistics show that 65-95% practice multi-teaming. New studies show there are challenges for employees in a multi team environments.
Identity and Belonging
Many times people gain identity from being on a team, but the more teams you stack onto a person, the more they struggle to recognize where they “belong”. When an employee feels they belong to a certain team (high primary team identity) and derives self worth from that belonging, then they are spread out to multiple teams, it can cause a disconnect and infringe on their perception of organizational life. Switching gears and the extra workload can add strain that can tip the scales for an employee considering leaving the firm.
Identity strain is highest, however, when an employee has low primary team identity and belongs to a low number of teams. The employee may not know how they fit into the organization, causing the employee to feel less valued. The number of teams influences the effects of multi-teaming quality on employee outcomes.
SO, how do we avoid these issues?
This research by Dr Sal Mistry looks at both the quantity, the number of teams, and the quality, evidenced by whether there is high or low primary team identification.
Employees that have their identity “grounded” in a primary team should experience fewer negative outcomes. To avoid having employees with both low level of primary team identification and a lower number of multi-team memberships, an organization should strengthen employees’ primary team identification.
If a manager cannot increase belongingness on a primary team, Mistry suggests that an employee should be assigned as many teams as possible. The studies show that for organizations with multi-teaming, regardless of primary team identification, the more number of teams you have, the less strain for employees. This suggests that at a point, the employee will understand working in a multi-team environment and derive worth/identity from their profession or expertise. However, use caution when increasing the number of team memberships as the increased workload can lead to exhaustion and burnout. Either way, managers need to stay aware of how a multi team environment impacts employee well-being.