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Choose teams over projects

People often ask me, “How do you like working in a big company?” and I always answer, “I like working with my current team.” The look I get back reveals that people think I’m hiding something. I’m not. It’s just that I’m not comfortable projecting relationships and attitudes of my closest twenty colleagues to tens of thousands other employees across the world.

Very small companies usually have only one team—the company itself. As businesses grow, multiple teams have to form. Even though teams try to follow the culture of the whole company, each team has its own mini-culture and dynamics that are shaped by its leaders, members, environment, and goals. Two teams can sometimes be so different that it’s hard to imagine them being related in any way.

People far removed from a particular team, usually outside of a company, are sometimes quick to judge the whole company by actions or deliverables of that team. This is ungrounded. It’s like saying a whole class is excellent by observing the performance of only one student. The class might be excellent or it might be horrible, but you can’t tell from only one case.

I’ve always valued working with good people more than working on a good project. When switching projects or teams, I try to find out as much as possible about people with whom I’ll spend most of my waking time. Projects come and go; human relationships last much longer.

This article is a part of my “lessons from the corporate world” series. If you’re curious, take a look at the intro on how it started and the list of all articles.

Don’t miss this one:
Presenting to senior leaders

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