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Many organizations are developing team initiatives, but few take the time to think the matter through. Valuing teamwork cannot be just another touchy-feely "program of the month." Senior management, owners, CEO's, must give it more than lip service. Attempts at real change must begin with and be supported by those at the top. They are the leaders, and effecting change in people is a leadership issue.
Want to get senior management on board? Try these strategies.
1. Focus on Company Goals and Mission
Managing and valuing teamwork should be an opportunity to effectively achieve the goals and mission of your organization. Each person should be valued for their willingness and ability to contribute to the goals and mission, not for any other reason. Senior managers will get on board if you can show that teamwork will contribute to the accomplishment of the goals and mission. Then you have a chance at realizing the benefits of teamwork.
What to do? Be brave: ask what their goals are. Then listen, even if it takes a while. It is the only way to be certain you are providing benefits they will value.
2. Focus on the Bottom Line
Companies are now realizing they must attract, retain, promote, and value the full spectrum of people just to keep the business running. Teamwork will allow you to do exactly that, because on a team each member is valued for their willingness and ability to help the team achieve its goals.
When we begin to value only those behaviors that help us get what we really want, then we are able to motivate and retain the folks who really contribute. Then our costs for firing, hiring, and training replacements drop markedly,
Lower retention costs in the short-term provide huge quality savings in the long-term.
3. Start Small and Build
People make changes slowly. So don't propose a major overhaul of the corporate mission and vision statements as the first step. Start by asking simple questions, such as: "How can we improve teamwork here?" "How can we improve communications across all departments and levels?" "What can you do to improve?"
Offer a proposal for some basic team training: leadership, communication, listening skills, coaching, goal setting, and conflict resolution.
Experiment with team-based projects. Make changes, as needed, along the way. Be flexible.
Little-by-little, you can sow the seeds for a teamwork initiative. Be patient: significant change takes time.
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© SMBC Incorporated 2007