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October 19, 2006

Sharing to Build Esprit de Corps

es•prit de corps (e-spree duh kawr)
noun, the common spirit existing in the members of a group and inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for the honor of the group
Synonyms: camaraderie, bonding, solidarity, fellowship
Etymology: French, literally ‘spirit of the group'

Today’s professionals are accustomed to easy access and abundant information from the Internet. They live with rapid change and demanding timelines. They are bothered, even offended by coworkers and bosses who don’t share information or seek input.

Call it ‘buy-in’
If you don’t have it, you don’t have the devotion and enthusiasm for your project or on your team. Without buy-in, projects can create conflicts, false expectations, diminish the amount of work that can be accomplished and extend the time a project takes. It can bring projects to a complete halt.

Workers who don’t understand the reasons for a project or aren’t involved early on can’t see how their part fits into the whole or even the reason for this new process or project. And when it comes to implementation, those who weren’t involved in planning often see little value in doing the work. I see this often with the front-line staff who talks to customers. If you don’t ask for their input in planning a new process, why would they be enthusiastic about using it?

Good working relationships produce a passion for work and a better quality of work life. People understand they are valued. We learn and contribute to better products and service when we share ideas. It’s brainstorming. It’s listening. It’s a 360 degree view, thinking like customers, involving colleagues, clients and bosses. Seek opinions and input up, down and across your organization. Talk about priorities and challenges.

Being inclusive shows respect for others. Create an atmosphere where positive, productive dialogues can happen. Seek input from all team members. You may have to be assertive, asking for opinions from the quiet people in the group and reminding others they have already made several points.

Knowledge hoarders think they have to hoard their ideas to profit, to appear important, to establish their identity. Maybe they aren’t hoarders but believe a project will move faster if they set up the original work on their own. Maybe they just don’t think about the impact on others.

What to do when input is not solicited
Suggest you could help but you need to understand the background of the project. Taking the project originator back in time points out the method used may not have been efficient after all if he or she missed some key points.

Be assertive. Describe the behavior you find objectionable, express the feelings you have because of the behavior and name the behavior’s effects. For example, “When I learned you were working on this assignment, I felt disheartened. I could have given you data I received from one of our satellite offices that would have saved you research time.” It is not about blaming someone. It’s focusing on solutions.

A habit of civility is realizing that no action of ours is without consequences for others. Bottom line: communicate widely and be inclusive.

October 12, 2006

When did you last receive a hand-written note?

Do you remember who sent it?

Most likely you do remember. It takes time and effort to write a note to congratulate someone, say thank you for a meal or a favor, or extend a condolence. In this hurried world filled with electronic messages, people appreciate a personal touch because it is so rare. Written notes are powerful.

At work, send them to vendors, clients, and colleagues who have gone out of their way to help you. Send thank you notes within three days of the service or kindness. Phrases that express appreciation: “I admire the way you…”; “You helped our team by….”; “One of the things I enjoy most about you is…”; “You’re doing a great job of…”

During the holiday season, a client or friend who doesn’t need another gift will appreciate a heart-felt note of appreciation or of reflection.

In your personal life, how many birthday cards or notes do you send to relatives and friends?

Show you value people with effective communication. Get out the stationery or go purchase some…start writing today.

"Good manners are the lubricating oil of organizations."
Peter Drucker, political economist and management consultant (1909-2005)