Q: Which is more important when presenting oneself for a potential job: one’s skills or the ability to fit in a group dynamic?

– Tiger, Pasay City

A: It depends on the culture of the organization. Take the “great divide” between East and West.

If an organization has an eastern character, the most likely thing is to recognize the importance of team work. That would be someone who is willing to make individual sacrifices for the success of the team.

On the other hand, if an organization has a Western influence, then you’d focus on the individual over a group of people.

To illustrate, say a bonus is paid to a group of workers, mainly for the exemplary efforts of one individual. That group is likely to support with friendship and respect the high-flying performer in their group.

If only one individual is the recipient of that bonus, then the rest are more likely to gang up against the individual favored by management. This will mean discouraging the individual from repeating his performance, and indirectly penalizing his ability.

In short, outstanding individuals ultimately benefit more from rewards paid to their group than to themselves. This is what you should focus on in organizations that give emphasis to team work.

R.A.H. Elbo is the managing advisor of Kairos Management Technologies and acting president of Kaizen Institute of the Philippines, both consulting and training companies.