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How to unlock the collaborative spirit at the office: Why And No Thank You!
Posted on February 15th 2011
Do you get the feeling that discontentment is everywhere and stress levels are running high? Notwithstanding the ongoing revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and, unrest now in Algeria, Iran and Iraq, there is a manifest discontent closer to home among employees in the workplace as well. People (at least those with a job) are toiling hard, but for the most part without much sense of satisfaction.
Inherently, people are keen to improve their performance driven first and foremost by their own pride; and, in these times, they are also anxious to keep their jobs. However, as fast as people run and as deep into the night that they labor, positive results are anything but guaranteed. As the results degrade, bosses, too often, resort to those tools they know best, the ones they were brought up on: higher controls, more stick, greater cost reductions, etc. Driving performance and enhancing motivation is tricky in the best of times. When the chips are down, people’s true colors come out and it is not always a pretty picture. When resources are limited, the best leaders manage to galvanize their teams behind them without the luxury of extra bonuses and fancy off-site meetings.
In an effort to be pithy and memorable and, most importantly, to focus on the truly key issues, there are four very simple words that can make a world of difference in one’s management style. I have come up with an acronym, W.A.N.T.! I will be happy to hear what you think about The WANT Myndset™ !
I W.A.N.T. YOU
Don’t you love it when you learn about something interesting? Learning something new every day should be on everybody’s daily task list, yet too often the opportunity to learn is drowned out by the routinely hectic pace of work.
Explain why you need something done…
Learning can be applied at the granular level: when assigning a task, a boss should take the time to explain why it is important that a task be accomplished. And, very often, the explanation can be very simple. For example, if you ask your assistant to photocopy and bind 20 dossiers… explain for whom the dossiers are destined (e.g. major board meeting…). The assistant will not only understand the urgency, the dossiers will be returned ever more neatly.
The bigger picture: What is your bigger purpose?
“Why are we busting our butts?” This is a question all too often running through the minds of employees. Another question that lies often dormant, but is fundamental and needs to be addressed is: “For what bigger purpose are we working?” This line of reasoning is often left alone in favor of the Valhalla of “results” or higher earnings per share for the next quarter. It is essential for senior management to take the time to communicate on what is the higher purpose, the true sense of one’s mission. Customers, much less employees, want something that resonates with them. Moreover, it is not enough to speak about it. Leaders need to invest time, resources and effort putting words into actions.
And is the greatest friend of the collaborative spirit. In your daily discussions, instead of using the word “but,” insert the word “and.” In particular, in the context of a brainstorming conversation, the listener(s) should be looking to add to what he/she is hearing. The best way is to use the word “and” before each interjection. The benefit: move away from shutting down the other person (raising their defensive barriers) toward a more constructive, collaborative spirit. It’s almost magical the effect when you start “anding” together.
This may seem in complete contradiction to the AND rule, but in reality it is merely a balancing trick. When it comes to enacting the ideas and thoughts, choices must be made. For every additional thought or decision, there should be a corresponding consideration for the consequences and, specifically, what will be cut to make way for the new action. To the extent we are programmed to stretch our resources, in a world where no one sets the boundaries, we need to understand that not every additional thought or action is a good thing. It is not about “just saying no” to any good idea, but to say no if there has been no consideration of the real consequences. The underlying message is that brands and businesses, more generally, must get in touch with their core values and mission in order better to decide on asset allocation. A strong brand marketer must have the vision that establishes the line between that which is important and aligned with the brand and that which is not. For, behind every good idea must be better execution. Knowing how to say no in a reasoned way will help get people focused on the essential and, along the way, allow for a more reasonable work environment.
Not just because times are tough and budgets are tight, when a boss or a colleague says thank you, it is recognition that costs nothing and works wonders. Saying “thank you” is no trite matter. Naturally, it must be expressed honestly and genuinely. Saying thank you shows (a) you pay attention, (b) you take the time. Your employees are your first clients. Saying thank you to them should embolden them to say thank you to your customers! It must be integral to a client-centric brand management.
What do you think of The WANT Myndset™? Would love to hear your thoughts!