The Importance of Team Building In The Workplace

The Importance of Team Building In The Workplace

Edmund Brunetti – 5 April 2017

Team building is crucial when you want to ensure that your organization is operating smoothly. When staff members dislike each other or are in constant conflict, working together on projects can become difficult and you may find yourself with employees that aren’t very productive. Having a facilitator come in to share relevant exercises or inviting a team building speaker to address these issues can make the difference between your organization underachieving or being a success. The main thing that professionally led team building events allow you to do is open up and improve the channels for communication. In a collegial environment, your employees can openly discuss what they find to be a hindrance to their team work and many employees will also recognize that their own behavior has been an issue that can be easily improved.

Once the team issues are out in the open, respectful dialogues can be had and from there the relationship between employees as well as between management and employees will improve. With improved relationships, comes better and more productive team work, which means the quality of the work being done will improve as well. The events also help to motivate employees to become more pleasant to work with. By recognizing the assumptions and issues in their own perspective or approach, employees can target these areas and fix the way that they interact in a team. Once they start to work better with other employees, they will become more confident in their abilities and they might discover that leadership comes easier when they get along with their team. This could open many doors for them and motivate them not to back down from challenges.

Having an experienced team building speaker present will definitely make thing easier during these events. With a speaker present, there is an impartial and engaging third party that will be able to better motivate employees and give them a fresh perspective. Team building activities run by a speaker will also force your employees to think creatively, since it will be something new outside of the usual office tasks. Once your employees learn to work together under these new circumstances, they will find it much easier to be cooperative when they’re working together on work projects.

Employees will also have new skills and insights in their back pockets after listening to a team building speaker. They will learn new problem solving skills and learn to think about problems in team work in a different way, making them more valuable to your organization. Developing these skills will help them a lot in future endeavors as well as future team projects. Another good thing that comes from attending team building events is that it by opening up communication channels your employees start to trust each other more as well as their management. If you get the feeling that your employees might not feel very connected to you and that the gap between management and employee is too wide, it might be time for all of you in the office to work through a few team building exercises together.

Get Them To Solve Problems, Not Just Raise Concerns

Get Them To Solve Problems, Not Just Raise Concerns

Get Them To Solve Problems, Not Just Raise Concerns

By Lonnie Pacelli

Some time back one of my managers sent out an email announcing that we had just won an account. This was a very big deal for us as our product was new to the marketplace and we were working hard to gain acceptance with customers. Several of us responded to the email expressing our excitement over the new account. One of my managers responded with “I’ve got concerns” and listed off a series of issues with servicing the account. All of the issues that the manager brought up were valid issues; the problem is that I didn’t know who was expected to do what regarding the issues.

I asked the manager that raised the issues to get in a room with a couple of other managers and put some resolution to the issues. Fortunately, there was no friction in the request and the managers got to work to outline each issue and put forth a suggested approach for how to deal with the issue. About an hour later the team of managers responded with a solid approach that would be taken which worked for everyone and addressed all of the concerns raised.

We’ve all experienced the person who had no problem at all saying “I’ve got concerns” to just about anything but offered nothing constructive in terms of suggested resolutions. The culprit wants to be the one to raise the issue and wants someone else to take ownership to resolve the problem. That dog don’t hunt with me.

When situations like this happen with me, I like to have the one that raises the issue get with a small subset of interested parties to come up with a resolution to the issue, and hold the person who raised the issue accountable for reporting back to the rest of the team as to the resolution. What I’ve found in doing this is that the quality of the solution is much better than a solution that any one person could have come up with because the interested stakeholders have all put their thumb-print on the resolution.

Next time one of your team members raises an issue, consider putting the issue back to a few of your team members, asking the person who raised the issue to drive resolution to the issue, and reporting back to the team the proposed resolution. You’ll get a better quality resolution and you’ll reduce churn with the team.


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What I Do At Work Matters!

What I Do At Work Matters!

What I Do At Work Matters!

How does an employee know if s/he fits into a company? In all the jobs, I have had, I always thought about how what I did fit into the company’s as well as my goals. Lately, I have read about employers in a variety of fields complaining that they cannot find good employees. I say to myself, maybe the employee is not the problem; perhaps it is the employer, the hiring and/or training process.

I believe that most employees don’t know how their skills and expertise fit into an organization’s mission statement, product, service or core values. Without knowing that, how can an employee make sure that the job is the best fit for everyone involved? I have read about creating culture and hiring for culture within organizations. At the beginning it may be about the hours, pay, benefits and culture of the company that keeps people. As time goes on, I believe finding and keeping employees vested in an organization is vital. New hires and long-term employees need to know not only “where they fit in”, but also “how what they do fits in” to serving the organization’s clients, guests, customers or vision/mission.

For example, years ago I went from working for a regional pharmaceutical wholesaler as a salaried customer service supervisor, to working for a national pharmaceutical wholesaler as an hourly order filler. After a few months at the national wholesaler, my mother would frequently ask me “when are you going to stop schlepping boxes for a living?” Schlepping is the Yiddish word for hauling or carrying something. I said “I do not just schlep boxes for a living. I fill orders that go to hospitals in the five-state area and when I do my job properly those patients get the medications they need.” Like only a mother can do, she raised an eyebrow at me and the conversation was over.

About two weeks later, we went and visited one of her friends at the hospital, which happened to be one of my company’s customers. As soon as I walked in Joanie said “Cece, look I have my Duragesic patch and my morphine pump.” I smiled at her and said “I noticed and you know they came from my company.” We continued with the visit. When my mother and I were driving out of the hospital’s parking lot, I said “those drugs she mentioned, my hands touched. I received them into my area of the warehouse, I put them away, and when the hospital made its daily order, I filled it. I do not schlep boxes for a living. I make sure that the hospital has the medications that it needs to treat patients, people who are someone’s parent, relative, child, friend, or co-worker. She never asked me again when I was going to stop schlepping boxes for a living. I knew how what I did mattered and how I fit in. I was never just an order filler. I considered myself an important part of helping someone get well, live better or die easier.

It was the essence of what we did as a wholesaler: put the right pharmaceuticals, in the right box, in the time allotted and get them delivered to the right hospital. I think businesses have trouble finding and keeping employees after the basics of compensation and benefits are taken care of, because they do not distill it down to how each action of the employee has an impact. It is the collective action of all those employees each day, repeatedly, which makes for successful companies.

Companies spend millions of dollars training employees and it is usually good training. What I am suggesting is taking it deeper and showing the employees how what they do fits in. Using the pharmaceutical wholesaler as an example, if I had been the warehouse supervisor, I would have taken every hourly order filler to the hospitals and to the people who ordered the pharmaceuticals. I would have walked them through the different wings of the hospital. I would have shown them the Pyxis drug distribution systems within the hospital where the product s/he put in the box went and were distributed from.

Let me give you another extreme example of I knew “how what I did fit in” while working at a restaurant. I took a call from a woman who wanted her brother to be part of her wedding and wanted it to be through her cake. Little did I know that her brother had died; all I knew was that she wanted some of his doodles on her cake. When she told me about his death, at first shock and awe hit. How can I do this and not disappoint? After a few conversations, I felt I understood her need. The night of the wedding the server took the cake out to all the guests and I never heard a word, good or bad from him or her. A few weeks later, an email arrived thanking me for bringing her brother’s doodles into the wedding. She said it was exactly what she had hoped for. I still have that email.

As a pastry chef, I was always in the kitchen and rarely spoke with the guests or ever heard from them. It did not matter. I knew “how what I did fit in.” Every day when I went to work, knowing each item I baked was going to be part of a celebration, a business event, a wedding, a birthday, and even a break from work mattered. I did not need to meet these guests because I knew if I did my job they would become repeat customers.

In both those fields being on one’s feet all day, working under pressure, having the ability to prioritize, and time management are critical skills necessary to complete the work. Knowing how what I do fits in requires those skills and more: compassion, patience, attention to detail, and valuing one’s work for its connection to others. The next time I hear someone complain about being unable to find good employees, I am going to ask: Do you train and hire employees in how what they do fits in to the company’s vision and mission? If not, maybe now is the time to start.

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Different Employee Incentives That Can Motivate Your Team To Perform Better

Different Employee Incentives That Can Motivate Your Team To Perform Better

An average adult’s life will mostly be composed of different challenges, situations and tasks. For most people today, there might not be a lot of variety at all. If you are having the same routine for quite some years already, you might start feeling that your work is becoming a tedious chore. This means that you are not already enjoying it but since it is allowing you to fulfil your financial responsibilities, you still continue to go to work every day.

If you currently own a business, the worst and last thing you want is for your workers to feel this way about their jobs. Building up their confidence in their ability to excel in their different roles must be your goal. Apart from that, you must also encourage them to become as valuable to the team and productive as they possibly can be. You can only accomplish this if you help them better understand how much their efforts are being appreciated by the organization. Hence, providing employee incentives must be a part of your strategy.

Why Offer Incentives

Your employees will be inspired to practice self-motivation – The mere knowledge that they can be rewarded if they perform better at work is crucial in motivating your employees. This will actually give them a reason to find great ways for boosting their output quality and to always assess their own performance.

Rewards can cultivate a happy workplace – Being aware that their employer will acknowledge high-performing employees, they can already feel satisfied with their employment. And this will make it a lot easier and natural for them to sustain a happy, positive atmosphere in the work environment.

Employees can represent your company much better – Productive and happy workers can be able to help possible clients and partners to see how your company can cultivate positive dynamics as well as uphold quality standards. Surely, this will lead to decisions made in your organization’s favour.

It is no doubt that rewards-based employee incentives will work as great motivators since they demonstrate how an employee can receive benefits and perks by performing at his best. Obtaining rewards will mean that the employer pays attention to good work and is happy to give credit to the members of the team.

Today, there are various incentives you might want to consider giving to your deserving employees. For instance, you can organize award presentations for those who have demonstrated excellent work. Also, you can try letting your employees to nominate the top performing employee among themselves for an award.


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Workplace Communication: How to Avoid Screwing It Up

Workplace Communication: How to Avoid Screwing It Up

By Eileen McDargh

Human language separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. But too often, we respond to the wag of a dog’s tail instead of the message given by the CEO. There is a breakdown in workplace communication.

Here are four sure-fire ways to get a message across, remembered, and repeated.

Use Real Language Instead of Ad Copy

Ad copy might be punchy but it only seeks to invite the viewer or reader to seek more details. That is often not possible in our 24-7, get-it-down-now world. Martin Luther King’s speech would have vanished into history if he only said, “I have a dream”. Real language fleshes out both the intent and the possibilities the sender wants to convey.

It is not filled with puffery and pompous language but rather words that allow people to see what the person is saying. For example, King gave specific examples of what that dream would look like such as slave owner and former slave breaking bread together.

Workplace Communication Through Symbols Instead of Spread Sheets

Numbers, P&Ls, and statistics are fine but they are not remembered nor repeated. Instead, the use of symbols carries far greater impact. For example, one manager walked into a meeting and dumped a pile of manufacturing parts on the table. He said, “This is the crap that keeps breaking. How are we going to fix this?” You can imagine the look on the faces of his peers.

In the amazing story of Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition of 1914, when the ship was crushed by an expanding ice pack, Shackleton determined rescue might be possible with a sled march to the ocean. This could only happen if every nonessential item was discarded regardless of value or emotional attachment. Shackleton reached inside his parka and threw away gold sovereigns and a gold cigarette case. The symbolism was not lost on his crew.

Use Storytelling Instead of Telling

Facts tell and emotion sells. Stories capture our emotion more so than a straight recitation of facts.

I was hired to create a report for a biotech company. The purpose of the report was to attract potential employees. Instead of talking about benefits and employment practices (although that was put in as an addendum), I interviewed employees about what they saw was the value of their work. To hear someone relate what it felt like to meet the recipient of a heart valve or to listen to a parent talk about their child’s recovery because of a device delivered a powerful response.

Use Dialogue Instead of a Discussion

The word “dialogue” means “through words.” The word “discussion” has the same root as “percussion” which comes from the Latin: “to beat”. So let me ask you, which would you rather have: a dialogue or a discussion. Discussions are heavy and often imagined as one-ups-manship with a winner at the end. On the other hand, a dialogue is exploratory, seeking to understand various viewpoints. Dialogue is a free-form give and take. When a leader sits in dialogue, the Biblical precept comes to mind: “Seek first to understand rather than be understood.”

All of these forms of workplace communication take conscious practice. Unlike some so-called leaders we see today who shoot from the mouth and are perceived as screwing up their message, a true leader works diligently to craft clear and compelling communication.

It is all in the intentional practice and commitment to behave as a true leader that real communication is achieved.

© 2016, The Resiliency Group. Publication rights granted to all venues so long as article and by-line are reprinted intact and all links are made live.

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