Abused, misused and overused

After the hustle and bustle of work, one of the things I do to relieve stress is to hit the gym. For years now, I have been a huge fan of the Les Mills program, particularly the group exercise (GX) called Bodypump. Their tracks are up to date, mixing various genres that cater to a multitude of members’ musical preference.

I have been good friends with a lot of senior and junior instructors. Some of them are my Facebook friends. They can really push you to lifting heavier and heavier weights week after week. In short, they care for your transformation and they coach you every step of the way, from your postures down to your diet.

Sadly, they have this trainee instructor who try to “copy” seasoned instructors who  are using terms loosely that makes me cringe every time they are the ones leading the class. What makes me cringe each time this wannabee instructor “copies” her mentors will be shared below. 

Years before I joined the academe, I was a trainer in a consultancy firm located in Makati. One of the interventions I often conduct for multinationals is the team building program. My role as a trainer in these interventions is not just to administer the “games” but also to process the dynamics of the team, how they strategize and ultimately used the team building concept of Goals, Roles, Rules and Relationships. 

Peter Drucker, a famous business guru shared these concepts by identifying different primary sports teams such as baseball, tennis and football. Each has its own rules such as players having fixed positions, playing in series, cross-discipline work and interchangeable positions. He further used such analogy to that of business and how people work together to achieve their purpose. 

Bluntly put, teams are formed because of their purpose or GOAL. They have certain RULES to follow or procedures to make sure the goals are met in a timely manner. Through their expertise in one procedure or the other they portray their ROLES. Ultimately, achieving a harmonious working environment makes them create RELATIONSHIPS.

Going back to the Bodypump experience, seasoned instructors call us teams and I have no problems with that. They know the members goals, they give us the rules to follow such as the right posture, and the time schedule of the exercise. They also portray their roles well. Outside the group exercise, they build relationships with the members, which makes the gym more of a community of health enthusiasts than just a status symbol. 

On the flip-side, this aspiring instructor kept on calling us a “team.” But she was misusing the term, abusing it and overusing it without even practicing or knowing the essence of the word. She only speaks to members who are her “friends.” Outside the group exercise, there are members she knew were regulars but that she always snubbed. Worse, it seems we do not exist in her world. She should know that for us to be legitimately called as “team,” she must make an effort to create relationships. The least she can do is to start smiling at us before, during or after the class and not see us as mere numbers filling up the class. 

For those given leadership positions, be it in the health-and-wellness environment or in the workplace, copying the language of one’s mentors without even understanding the terms used is not going to be helpful in any way to one’s new-found role. 

I have a handful of friends who worked in various industries that often complain about how badly their bosses treat them. Some bosses, or so called “leaders,” are just treating their members as people who can contribute to a sales quota, production line or project. But they never bother to even know where they live, reach out to understand their personal lives, or even identify what motivates them. They are treated like machines that need to work for eight hours and get paid on the 15th and 30th. 

So, for readers out there who will be given future leadership roles, here’s a humble request: before we assume these roles and call our people a team a little effort of understanding its essence would be helpful. An overused definition of a TEAM: T-ogether E-veryone A-chieves M-ore, is common knowledge, but creating that “together” requires building relationships. Remember, without one of the GRRR elements (goals, roles, rules and relationship), one cannot truly call their team a TEAM.  


Alvin Neil Gutierrez is a Doctor of Business Administration student of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. He took up his Masters in Human Resource Management as an AUSAID scholar from the University of Sydney Business School. He is also an Assistant Professor at the DLSU Management and Organization Department, where he teaches Strategic Human Resources Management. 

The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty and its administrators.

Topics: Opinion , Greenlight , Work , Team relation ,
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