According to SMU Cox Management Professor Sal Mistry, most companies engage in some form of multi-teaming, where employees are on multiple teams at the same time. In new research, Mistry and his co-authors unpack the challenges for those employees and offer ideas for creating better multi-teaming environments.
In today’s workplace, employees often wear many hats, whether in an academic, corporate or non-profit environment. Through multi-teaming, organizations are attempting to extract and share knowledge, says Mistry, bringing expertise to the benefit of the whole organization. Mistry references a Dallas-based tech company with 30 employees that are on multiple teams simultaneously: “In high tech, rapidly changing circumstances and a fluid environment have different requirements than say, a credit union, which has a more stable operating environment.” In a senior management team, one could be a member of an executive team and lead the marketing team, which is considered multi-team membership (MTM).
In their research, Mistry and his colleagues examine the effect of identification with one’s primary team as it relates to identity strain. “We show that the number of teams impacts employees’ identification,” says Mistry. “Many times people gain identity from being on a team, but the more teams you stack onto a person, they may not recognize who they are.”