Archive for January, 2010

The New World of Community

There is a breath of fresh air in the new decade, though. It embodies the world of community at work. It doesn’t pit employees against each other. It doesn’t set up an “enemy” in the form of the competitors, other staff members, or even the boss. It involves openness and sharing from top to bottom. Mankind has always wanted to belong to a group. Acceptance, affirmation and approval are the motivating factors. Competition doesn’t always appeal to every member on the corporate ladder. Some people are proud to do their jobs and contribute with only the acceptance of others as their reward.

My wife works for a national corporation. She has a territory that spans four states. Last year we had just gotten engaged and soon after the day she announced our engagement, the company newsletter proclaimed her good news to everyone in her region. The salutations poured in.  When my wife arrived at a subsequent training meeting, the lunch banquet had a French theme to incorporate our honeymoon destination!  She was so surprised and texted me immediately what they had done. Everyone was happy and celebrated. The spirit of community building in her company is very strong. No team vs. team. No “us” vs. “them.” It’s all about you and what you can do to make us a better community. It bleeds out into the climate of their customers and the ROI (Return on Investment) is growing.

 For years people have attempted to build community. They have tried in the schools, but we are a disjointed society without a lot of free time to get involved in our children’s school. They have tried in neighborhoods, but most people can’t name four families that live two doors down the street from them. They have tried in churches, but when the most active people only attend 2-3 hours a week, you can’t build a very large, viable community. The place we work is where we spend most of our time every week. It contains the people we interact with more than anyone else in our lives. It is the perfect breeding ground to grow community. You can take a dysfunctional group of people and build a strong community out of their needs and wants that are satisfied by mixing together.

You Can’t Cut Your Way to Success

Cowards reduce in the wrong places and stop taking risks when the economy goes in a different direction. Cutting back on sales training to save money is like turning off your “Open” sign to save on electricity. Take advantage of the fact that everyone else is cutting back. No company ever grew by cutting back when everyone else was in a fetal position. It is the best time to take advantage of the opportunities.

Reward People Who Break the Rules to Please Customers

Do your people have permission to go against “policy” to satisfy your customers? What would happen to an employee who goes outside of the rules to make someone happy? How well do they know what they can and cannot do? Remember, if you emphasize rules, you will have less people. If you emphasize people over rules, you will have more people.

Bite, Snack and Meal

I like this phrase from Vic Osteen on his blog about branding: “The best advice I’ve heard lately is: first give them a BITE, then a SNACK, then a MEAL.”

Your Team Hates Working For You

Your team hates you. “Who? Me?” You say. Yes, you. They hate you for a multitude of reasons.

Before you fly off the handle and stop reading this, allow me to explain the top reasons your team can’t stand working with you. Remember the movie, Mr. Mom, with Michael Keaton and Martin Mull? Keaton attended his wife’s company picnic. There were competitive games, but the object was to let the hapless boss (played by Mull) win every time. They hated him. Well these are things you need to fix before you either have a full-scale mutiny or a going-out-of-business sale in the HR department.

MSNBC came out with a poll of work satisfaction last Winter.  It seems that in the first week of the new decade satisfaction with work is at an all-time low. Almost all of the comments about being dis-satisfied were associated with the management/employee relationship, or lack there of.

Some of the quotes associated with the poll were:

“I work for a small firm owned by vapid narcissists with no regard for the aspirations of those who make their opulent lifestyle possible.”

“I hate every part of it. Used to love my job, but over the past five years I’ve seen it go to hell due to poor management and people who just don’t care.”

“Not satisfied and I want a new one
I feel very disconnected from my job. Management is making bad decisions and not listening to the employees.”

“Plenty of payroll issues, as well as being hidden from the rest of the company and being purposefully held back from advancement.”

“Things have changed for the worse at my job. After 29 years I was demoted – with a large DECREASE in pay. So much for being loyal to people.”

What does your “team” think of you? I mean really think of you. Do they detest you? Just because you got presents and cards at the holidays doesn’t mean they love you. Just because they let you win the sack race at the company picnic and cheer when you get your award doesn’t mean they adore you.

Start building community. Start wandering around. Kudos to the new cable television show where the boss has to go to work alongside the everyday workers (anonymously, of course). Maybe more managers will learn something and start building community at work and give up believing they are successfully coaching a team. They aren’t and you aren’t. Wise up.

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January 2010


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