Topic of the Week The Commitments… How to Get Everyone Working Together
Getting People Working Together:
• DO redefine success.
• DO involve others.
• DO be accountable.
• DON’T just think of today.
Your Rant: How do you get everyone working off the same page?
Optimizing performance is important, but during tough times it’s essential. Which reminds me of the old Sufi story about a group of blind wise men that came across an elephant. They want to figure out what it is, so one feels the legs and says it must be a column of a building. One feels an ear and thinks it must be a sail. While another feels the trunk and thinks it must be a hose. You get the picture.
Our organizations are often like that, with people only having a sense of their immediate function and often unable to grasp the whole operation. That’s why I’ve included three Do’s and one Don’t to help you to create a strategy to get everyone engaged and focused on the big picture at work. For more, check out “Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Create Unity and Reap Big Results” Morten T. Hansen (Harvard Business Press, 2009).
DO redefine success. Each and every one of us contributes to the mess by hyper-focusing our efforts on a very narrow agenda, OURS! That’s why it’s so important to pull back and see the larger goals. I’ve heard from many readers who talk about how they are encouraged to maximize their function at the expense of the organization as a whole. For example, when a sales team decides to dramatically cut warranty prices that boosts sales but pushes the costs off to another department.
DO involve others. Most bosses feel very comfortable in just closing their door and making decisions. Isn’t that what an MBA is supposed to do? But that approach robs the organization of the opportunity to gain new insight from all of the smart front line people who are much closer to the action. Decision-making is best that gets closest to the actual customers. Seek to involve others in the decisions that are made. Not as a show, but to see if they can actually help you to come up with better decisions.
DO be accountable. Many managers believe that whenever you admit a mistake you are showing weakness. I couldn’t disagree more. Let’s face it, when mistakes are made employees often know all about them. To dance around like you had nothing to do with it does two things, both bad. It encourages people to lie and it tells them not to trust you. If you ask for accountability, please don’t forget to offer it personally.
DON’T just think of today. Every leaders job should involve developing the next generation of leaders for their company. That’s why it’s so important to always be consciously growing and developing your people. Giving people a chance to shape the direction of the organization not only helps them, it helps the organization too.
There is an elephant in the room of most organizations, the lack of engagement and trust that most people feel. Hopefully these tips will help everyone to recommit to a real collaboration at work.
Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. If you have a question for Bob, contact him via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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"In the United States, there is no end which human will despairs of attaining through the combined power of individuals united in a society."
–Alexis de Tocqueville
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