JJ's (September '05) Tips in this issue:
1. Developing Happy Work Families
2. JJ's Favorite Quotes
3. Tele-Coaching & Tele-Mentoring
Use the following tips as training tools.
Present this situation to your group and brainstorm solutions together, or submit your own situation question to be answered in an upcoming newsletter.
What are some of the things our company could do to develop better camaraderie and teamwork in our work family? We are losing our good young people to other companies in the area more and more.
If you have people in their late twenties and thirties working for you, you have generation Xer's who like to have fun at work. They also value the great feeling of belonging to a happy work family.
When I evaluate the environment of companies by doing one-on-one confidential interviews with front line through management people, I learn very quickly what kind of work family they have.
In those interviews, they tell me things they would never tell anyone else in the company. And even though they have heatedly told me about the things they would like to see changed in their department or company, many times they will finish the conversation by saying, "but I love working her."
That last comment tells me the company has developed a great work family and is the "Employer of Choice" to that employee. It may be a "Manager of Choice" or department work family that influences them to make that comment.
Many companies have disfunctional work families with poor teamwork and communication.
How much fun can it be to work for these companies? How loyal do you think their trained employees (associates) will be when other companies offer job openings in their category?
Work families have problems to solve, just as personal families do, but if the foundation people in the family have the same goals, mission and vision of what they want to accomplish, they will steer newcomers to those same values so the team remains strong as a cohesive group.
Each member of the work family must respect the leadership positions others hold even though they may feel envious. Undermining leadership by consistently apposing suggested directions the leader has proposed creates a disconnect in the work family. Everyone knows what is happening when two or
three apposing members of the team refuse to see new ways of doing things. They lengthen discussions and delay important decisions.
This is the time to have one-on-one discussions with those people. Discover what lies beneath the long discussions and delay tactics. Are these individual's ideas and reasonings being heard without bias by you and the rest of the team? Have you asked their opinions AFTER you already made the decision to go a direction?
Get in their skin and see their point of view. Find out what they are working to accomplish and see how their goals dove tail together with yours and the rest of the team. Reevaluate each person and how they have been and are treated by you and others on the team. Then after this, if you have not changed your mind about the situation at hand, stand firm and call for a group consensus.
Ultimately, if the team can not come to a consensus, the leader makes the well-thought out decision. Then everyone on the team must respect the decision and promote it to the rest of the company. If the opposite happens, the work family begins to split and fall apart. A person who can not support these decisions whole heartily and show respect for the leader should not be on the team. The work family team needs to have everyone on the same page, talking and walking the same message and theme.
If there are existing resentments among the members, the leader must coach and counsel those people so they feel important and valuable to the team. He or she must constantly work to see their points of view and show respect for
them also. They are on the team because of their stature, knowledge, experiences or a number of other reasons. Make them feel welcome and valued, but don't give in to their "Push Back."
From my August newsletter (on "Pushing Back") came this reply from a reader:
"Dear JJ, I always enjoy your tips. In this case I don't quite agree since I think sometimes a manager just has to insist on certain standards. "Pushing is not acceptable. Period." And then the manager has to be prepared to take real action if the staff person in question doesn't "get it". I do this when necessary, and every time either the person "gets it" and is grateful, or I have to move or terminate the person -- and the rest of the staff is grateful. No one ever said management is easy."
Reply: You are right on track for managers.
For the sake of the company or department, managers/leaders must show their leadership strengths when one or two people on the team refuse to "get it". When those people keep pushing back (long after the subject has been discussed into analysis paralysis) and continue to be unbending and disruptive to the team and its objectives, the leader must take the initiative and bring the team back in control.
Another reader pointed out that a team is like a group hacking its way through a jungle. The leader's job is to climb the highest tree to see if the team is hacking away in the right direction to meet their target area
out of the jungle.
When the leader does not take control of an excessive "Push Back" situation by team members, he or she has forgotten to climb the highest tree to see if his team is going the right direction. Remember that your objective is to lead your team to a consensus and a decision, not to have everyone on the team 100% pleased with every decision. As our first reader stated, the rest of the staff will be grateful you took charge.
A great work family starts at the top with strong management and filters down through the ranks to the front line. Everyone must be on the same page working toward the same goals (mission and vision).
One way to keep everyone on the same page in the company is to keep every level informed on what is going on in the business.
One of my new clients, RJ Matthews Company in Ohio (offering animal health products) sent me their monthly newsletter a few weeks after I worked with them. It was a great example of keeping a work family informed on what was going on, recent events and exciting new events and projects coming in the
weeks and months ahead.
The newsletter was one page folded over with four sides to read. It was the best I have seen to reinforce a happy work family environment. It's no wonder so many people on all levels told me they loved working there.
Right on the front page they stated their vision and mission statements and everything in the letter reinforced those values.
Also on the front page with their Calendar of Events were accolades to people who had "gone beyond the call of duty" that month. AND to my surprise their President, Dan Matthews wrote a GREAT "Thank You, JJ!" column that extended onto the second page of the newsletter. It told of my evaluation of
their environment with the one-on-one confidential interviews and results, customer care and management training, and how much the company had benefited from them.
Then he listed 17 key points from my training. Yes, the founder and the top management team also attended the full day seminar given for half of the company (all levels attended together). He reminded those who had not attended the first training that they could look forward to attending when JJ returned in a couple of months. Talk about "getting everyone on the same page", this was a great example of it.
The newsletter also included pictures from the seminar, employee appreciation day luau event and others showing the camaraderie of the big team working and playing together.
They also included reminders of changes in rules, employee updates, "Character First" words (traits that bring out the best in people) and positions currently available and how to apply for them (opening a career
If you don't have a newsletter, this is a great one to adapt to your work environment to keep your work family all on the same page.
To further reinforce my seminar the Operation Manager from RJ Matthews called last week to get my ideas on how to celebrate Customer Service Week, October 3-7 in their company. I referred her to Positive Promotions at http://www.positivepromotions.com. Click on Customer Service Week on the
home page. There you'll find a number of great event ideas that you can use too.
These are some of the ways you can create and sustain a great work family having fun working and playing together. By the way, when you are having fun doing whatever you're doing, your immune system stays stronger and you stay healthier and happier which affects your life personally and professionally.
It isn't one thing that creates a great work family, it is all of these big things (management strength) and small things patch worked together to create a cohesive camaraderie throughout the company. Get your work family all on the same page and ENJOY THE JOURNEY!
"The secret of success is constancy of purpose."