Archive for May, 2009

Building Community at Work.

Community refers to the same group of people who are socialized together and function for the long haul. They share many experiences beyond individual projects or tasks.

I used to say, “Teamwork makes the dream work.'” But then I noticed how many times it doesn’t work that way. It didn’t work in the churches I served in. Companies who build teams have employees who are disgruntled that everyone in the group isn’t pulling their own weight. The high acheiverss do most of the work and resent being paid the same thing the do-nothings on the team are paid. The non-producers don’t work and drag the process down.  Sack the idea and start encouraging socialization among your employees.

It is the wave of the future.

Why will socialization take place in the workplace in the future? People don’t know their neighbors, they don’t get as involved with other parents at their children’s schools, they don’t get as involved at church as they used to (you can’t do socialization in 2-3 hours a week). But they spend more of their time at work. Building community at work will totally revolutionize the hiring process. Socialization in the work place will stabilize poor performance and improve attitudes. Socialization is the key to building unity in the workplace.

I was discussing this in a men’s clothing store with the manager. He told about how his company was emphasizing this concept in their corporate environment and how successful it is. He said he had never seen the response to this approach before and was very excited about it. Imagine a dysfunctional group of people sitting around and discussing what is important to them and their lives. See the unity that you can develop in your workforce by building community. After all, community can be called “common unity.” Now you can build community among your employees and they won’t be as concerned about looking for another job that fulfills them.

We need to reconnect with what we do, who we are and how we do what we do.

You have to get out of your industry to lead it.

What? Yes, to dominate your industry, you need to look outside of it. Look at every industry leader and you will find that they do things outside of the norm for their industry. Starbuck’s isn’t a normal coffee shop. Barnes and Noble isn’t just a book seller, Apple doesn’t just make computers, mp3 players or cell phones, Disney isn’t just a theme park; Google isn’t just a search engine. All of these are more than their industry and, therefore they lead it. To lead it you have to change and go outside of it.

Here are some examples of changes you can make (some from Seth Godin, some from me):
• Keep making guitars, but make distinctive expensive ones, not the mass market ones that overseas competition has made obsolete. (SG)
• Keep the punch press and the lathe, but make large scale art installations, not car parts. (SG)
• Keep your wealthy travel clients, but sell them personal services instead of trips to Europe. (SG)
• Keep your hotel, but sell the destination.
• Keep the health care facility, but sell the experience and food.
• Keep your customers, but change what you sell to them.
• Keep your providers, but change the profit structure. (SG)
• Keep your employees, but change what you do.
• Keep your products, but change the way you deliver them.
• Keep your customers, but change how much you sell each one (bundle services).
• Keep your reputation, but change what you sell or your industry. (SG)

Get it? It’s laughable when I talk to meeting planners and committee chairs every day who choose to hear speakers from within their industry. Like this is going to give them a leg up on the competition – which is sitting all around them hearing the same message. If you want to lead your industry, first lose the industry speaker. Then look for people with exposure to other industries and a world of ideas and possibilities. Look for people who say, “This works over there; let’s see how it works for you here.” Look for ways to differentiate from your industry, not in it, to lead the way out of it.


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