“We need team members to see their job as not just confined to their precise scope but to help the group around them or team get the best possible results” Atul Gawande
A strong business depends on people who can see beyond their own cubicle walls. What I mean by this is that a business depends on employees who understand how their actions impact the overall performance of the business. These employees have enough knowledge of the business that they can adjust their day to day work routines, deliverables and interactions so that they maximize value to the business at every occasion.
And, this applies to every employee at every level of the business from the cleaning staff to the board room!
Earlier in my career when I was a new project manager, I ran into an issue where project team members were taking actions that were good for their particular scope of work but they were not considering the impact on the project as a whole. They would take actions that would allow them to get their work done quickly and efficiently but it was causing significant work and rework for other project team members.
Now, all of these people were great people and had the best interests of the project at heart but simply did not understand how their actions were impacting others. These negative results were not their fault but mine as I was the project manager or leader. It was my responsibility to ensure everyone on the team understood not just their scope of work but also how their work impacted the rest of the project team.
I was able to take some fairly simple steps to fix the problem on this project and these steps translate easily into any business environment.
So, if your business is in a situation where your employees do not see this bigger picture and their actions are not aligned with the best interests of the business, you do not have to despair! Take the following actions to move your employees towards the culture your business needs.
- Educate your staff so that they understand what the business is all about instead of just what their job is all about. Getting staff to understand what their role is, is important for your business but getting employees to understand how their role makes the overall business successful is critical to your business.
- Have staff from each business group run cross functional training so that everyone in the organization is aware of how all the roles work. This does not have to be detailed training but a simple lunch and learn goes a long way. Giving employees an understanding of what everyone does and how it all fits together allows them to work more efficiently as an integrated team.
- Communicate positive examples of employees who took an action that exemplified this behavior. Do this in a newsletter, email, intranet page or other form of internal companywide communication. This recognizes the employee in front of their peers for the positive behavior you are creating.
- Do monthly team building events so everyone gets to know each other. It is much easier to understand and care about the business when the employees have strong personal relationships.
- Do a monthly newsletter that features a different aspect of the business each month.
- Implement a peer recognition system so that the employees can recognize their peers for the great work they are doing.
Spend some time to build a culture in your organization that encourages your staff to look at the business holistically. Get your employees to think outside of their role definition and leverage their work to improve the overall business.
Leave a comment on your company culture below.
“. . . the culture of an organization, and in particular, the way people feel about their work climate, can account for nearly 30 percent of business performance.” Chip Conley
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