In this final installment in our series about the implications of a more collaborative workplace, we focus on what may seem like an apparent contradiction – unity in diversity. What does this mean? First, unity means that as an organization, department, or a team – every person needs to clearly identify what goal or mission they are striving towards as a collaborative team. There needs to be a unified effort or mission to achieve the goals or mission of the team. Second, but in this unity- there needs to be an honoring of the diversity of the people involved. Diversity in personalities, skills, talents, backgrounds, experience, education, genders, language, culture, etc. We are thus all going in the same direction while retaining our own unique talents. An organization that can successfully do these two things – be clear on the mission as well as invite and honor and celebrate the diversity of talent – is able to effectively thrive in this new type of collaborative workplace. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you currently conduct a diversity class for all your employees?
- What are you doing to ensure that you are recruiting and interviewing well-qualified people who bring diversity into the workplace?
- Are all your managers aware of your state and federal regulations as they relate to interview questions, hiring and firing, professional development opportunities, and tuition reimbursement?
You’ve heard of IQ – but perhaps you haven’t heard of emotional intelligence which has become widely accepted as a legitimate theory with broad implications in every discipline, including the business environment. In a nutshell, emotional intelligence is your awareness of and ability to manage your own emotions as well as to “tune into” the emotions of other people. In 1983, Howard Gardner of Harvard actually identified eight different intelligences: Spatial, Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Naturalist. His theory was further expanded when Dr. Daniel Goleman wrote his book, Emotional Intelligence. Dr. Goleman goes as far to say that those people, who have higher EQ or Emotional Quotient, tend to be more successful than those with low EQ.
As we are analyzing how we can prepare ourselves for this new collaborative workplace, the importance of emotional intelligence cannot be overstated. For indeed, as workers and managers are asked to collaborate, work cross-functionally, operate interdependently, with plenty of freedom to make decisions, the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions is critical. Think about it – your skill in building collaborative relationships, effectively deal with conflict and overcome failure are critical success factors. With a high EQ or Emotional Quotient, you can tap into the creative energy and information that emotions can give you and as a leader or professional use positive emotions (called resonance) to help move a team forward. As Daniel Goleman states in his book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, “We are being judged by a new yardstick: not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other.”
Here are some questions to ask yourself to consider your EQ level:
- How “tuned” in are you to your own emotions? Or to the emotions of others?
- How likely are you to be able to maintain control with your own emotions?
- How is your ability to “talk the talk” by living out your values?
- How open are you to your own mistakes?
- How are you in dealing with conflict?
- What is your ability to create collaborative partnerships (with others)?
For more information on this fascinating subject, I highly recommend these books:
- Emotional Intelligence, by Dr. Daniel Goleman
- Working with Emotional Intelligence, By Dr. Daniel Golemen
- Executive EQ by Robert K. Cooper, PH.D, and Ayman Sawaf.
How does creating and managing expectations help create a culture of contribution? We will answer this question by taking a principle from customer service. In the book, “50 Powerful Ideas You Can Use to Keep Your Customers” the author, Paul R. Timm, Ph.D, says that our expectations are “perceptual.” They exist in our minds – and sometimes they are accurate and rational, but sometimes they aren’t. When we are customers, we evaluate our service based on the entire experience – that goes beyond the core product or service purchased. And guess what, our evaluation is based on our own expectations – did the service provider meet or exceed our expectations? (Paul R. Timm says that the key for gaining loyalty with our customers is not in meeting what the customer expects – but in exceeding it).
Here’s the take-away. Your employees and staff members have expectations when they decide to work for your organization. Part of your role as a leader, is to help your “customers” (your staff members) become engaged and committed and even “loyal” partners by constantly exceeding their expectations. You want to go beyond what your staff anticipate or expect so that they feel positive and energized to go beyond what their job entails. Here are some ways you can do this:
- Make job expectations explicit. Clearly communicate the job requirements and how employees will be evaluated.
- Provide frequent feedback for your team members so they know how they are doing in relation to the job expectations.
- Recognize each employee’s efforts, especially those employees who excel and do work beyond what is expected
- Get to know each staff member so that you can tailor your communication style to the individual
- As you get to know each staff member, discover or learn what each one anticipates and expects from you as a manager – and if possible, over deliver
- Review every “touch point” that your employee has with your department and find ways to deliver value (Some areas that you can look at include: how you orient a new employee, whether you are providing mentoring for new employees, what opportunities employees have to continue to learn and grow, the frequency of your one-on-one meetings with each employee, your consistency in providing performance feedback, recognition, etc.)
Perhaps you didn’t realize that your role as a leader has such a parallel to customer service. But your most important customer base isn’t those who purchase your products, it is those people who choose to work for you! And being aware of the power of expectations can go a long way in ensuring your staff feels good about working for you and your team!
As we conclude this series, let’s review, the 7 ways you can create a culture of contribution in your work team, community association, church setting, or volunteer organization:
- Hire the right people
- Engage your staff and your customers
- Enthusiastically promote others
- Offer benefits to be involved
- Recognize good work
- Reward contribution
- Create (and manage) expectations
Imagine the positive energy and productivity that you and your team could experience as you start to implement these steps to creating a culture of contribution! So here’s my question, which one will you tackle first?
As we continue our “Creating a culture of contribution” series, we focus our attention on the subject of recognition. Here are some creative ways you can recognize your staff, team, or board members:
- Publicly recognize contribution. (Make sure you make recognition meaningful – some people would prefer more personal recognition – so the best thing you can do is ask your people how they want to be recognized)
- Tell staff what their greatest contributions were in the last week, month, and year.
- Let people know how their contributions are valued and how they contribute to your organization’s mission.
- When people fail, reframe the failure as an opportunity for learning.
Numerous studies show that recognition is the key to people feeling appreciated and engaged in an endeavor. By taking the time to intentionally share a few words of recognition, your employees and volunteers feel appreciated and engaged.
What can you say today that will help your staff or volunteers feel recognized?
Have you ever been in an organization where exceptional, hard working, high performance contributors were rewarded … by giving more and more work? One of the better ways to ensure that people will continue to contribute is to simply recognize good work. Let your people know that good work is valued and give continuous feedback regarding their performance and contributions so that they can continue to grow and be successful in their jobs. If more of a challenge is what motivates someone, consider providing other career or leadership opportunities for these high-performers so their enthusiasm and commitment is continually renewed. Or these may be just the people you can count on to serve as mentors or trainers to others on their team or committee.
A few more thoughts on this point:
- Recognize effectively– Not every person likes being recognized the same way –so know your team members and ask them how they want to be recognized.
- Define what “good” means – Create clear expectations for your team so that each person knows what the definition of “good” is – set clear job goals and performance expectations and include deadlines.
- Expand your view of work – Work can be defined as the actual task as well as the manner that task is carried out. Broaden “work” to include people’s interactions with others, their ability to work as a team.
We’ve been talking about creating a culture of contribution through involvement. Here’s another way to get people involved:
- Offer opportunities for people to share testimonials of their own benefits of involvement.
Many times it is those personal stories that spur people on to get involved. Think about creative ways you can have people share their own stories. How did they get involved? Why did they get involved? What benefits did they receive from their involvement?
In a work setting, many times these stories can be heard at staff meetings or read in company newsletters or ezines. Sometimes the benefits can be seen by the ways in which people get promoted or are provide career opportunities.
A crucial step in creating a culture of contribution is to ensure people are seeing the benefits of their involvement. Whether you run a work team in an organization or are a leader of a community or professional organization, we all have a “radio frequency” dialed in at “WIIFM” (What’s in it for me) – and one of your roles is to communicate the benefits of their involvement, through words and actions. Here’s an idea:
Communicate (in creative ways) how involvement is an expectation (in the work setting), and the means by which people can get the best value of their membership (in a volunteer organization).
How do you accomplish this?
- Orient new employees that their participation in weekly staff meetings is part of their job expectation (and make sure they know some ways that you expect them to participate)
- Orient new volunteers and members and train them on the benefits of involvement
- Make it easy for new volunteers and members to get involved
- Allow opportunities for each person to facilitate one of your staff meetings
- Tie your evaluation system to people’s involvement
- “Educate” your team members on the productive ways to get involved. (For example, I’ve heard several managers say “If you are going to complain about something, make sure you come up with 1-2 ideas on how to fix the problem.”).
Have you ever been with a self-promoter? I’m not talking about someone who shares good news. We can all be excited with the successes of others! I’m talking about someone who intentionally engages in self promotion, endlessly. It gets old pretty fast, doesn’t it? As we look at another way to help create a culture of contribution, we turn our attention to the positive things that can happen when we focus on others.
Enthusiastically promoting others means that we seek to recognize the contributions of others. Here are a few ideas on how we can do this in our work teams, organizations, volunteer groups, and networking associations:
- Allocate the first 5 minutes of a meeting to good news – where someone in the meeting praises the work and contribution of someone else in the room. See how this creates positive energy!
- Create a recognition system that everyone can participate in. Many of my clients have developed a service recognition system that provides the opportunity for employees to recognize the exceptional service of their peers.
- When you know of a good business or vendor that you have dealt with, share this with others. A good referral can save your customers, friends, or business colleague’s hours of time in searching.
- Recognize new employees, new members, or new vendors. Your organization benefits by being introduced to new people and you are able to promote that person’s background, gifts, and talents in a way that honors them.
- Appreciate contributions. Whether in a volunteer organization, business, or community association, never forget the exponential benefits of recognizing small and large contributions by those in your team.
And what an ideal time to promote some vendors that I have had the pleasure of doing business with! These vendors are in the local South Puget Sound region in the state of Washington and I highly recommend them!
Hard@Work Computers, LLC
Affordable, competent, professional, incredible service - knowledgeable about computer software, hardware, back-up procedures
The Gift Basket Diva
Creative, customer-focused, works with your timeline, beautiful basket creations
Employee engagement seems to be the “fad” these days. Yet engaging your employees is not a passing fad but rather, a crucial strategy to keep your employees and managers operating with optimism, intentionality in service delivery, and enthusiasm that will positively transform your organization.
Here are a few ways you can engage your staff:
- Consult with your staff before making any changes affecting their work.
- Value the differences in opinions and ideas.
- Listen to and respect your staff member’s opinions. Be open to new ideas and suggestions.
- When presented with a problem or question, ask how they might solve it.
- Recognize their contributions. Make it timely.
Remember that your staff members are perhaps your organization’s most important customers! Engaging your staff members shows them that you value them!
Today is Australia Day and since I am a fan of kangaroos – I thought I would share about this holiday! (From Wikipedia):
Australia Day, also previously known as Anniversary Day and Foundation Day and also referred to as Invasion day, is the official day of Australia. The 26th of January is celebrated every year to commemorate the arrival of the First Fleet of Sydney Cove in 1788, the hoisting of the British flag, and the proclamation of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia.
People celebrate with family meetings, picnics, and barbecues, parades, and citizenship ceremonies.
So here’s the relevance for you: How does your business celebrate important occasions in its history? How would creating a “holiday” for your business invigorate or inspire your staff?
And speaking of holidays, I have got to tell you about a delightful book that is sure to entertain and educate you – The Obscure Holiday Handbook! Written by Dr. Patt Schwab, a humorist and president of FUNdamentally Speaking, an international speaking and consulting firm, this book contains over 600 clever holidays – many of them you probably have not heard of! To obtain more information about the book or to order your copy, go to Patt’s website – www.fundamentallyspeaking.com.