As I was doing my usual Tuesday morning social media audits ( translation: spending time on LinkedIn and Twitter looking for cool stuff and trying to find some inspiration to write this blog) I stumbled upon a Harvard Business Review Article that claimed that spending money on team building was a waste of time.
When I think of team building exercises, I conjure images of people doing trust falls in a wilderness-like setting with an 80’s movie soundtrack playing in the background. I must admit I have not participated in too many of these activities, but I’ve done enough of them to know that, in truth, I agree with that article wholeheartedly.
They don’t really work. And by “work”, I mean that nothing profoundly transformative happens in the direct aftermath. You might laugh, have a good time, be goofy, and enjoy a couple of hoppy IPAs’, but really? You return to work the next day, put your head down, and keep doing what you’re doing.
In a silo. Independent of the other men and women surrounding you that are doing their thing.
So what? You might say. Everyone is getting it done. Jobs are getting estimated and written up. Preflighted. Color corrected. Printed, QCed, and out the door, on time and accurate. Everybody’s happy.
Happy sure. But here’s what fostering an environment and a culture of collaboration will get you.
- Engaged employees – When people from different departments work together on common goals and vision, they feel more invested in outcomes, and are more concerned about things like overall customer satisfaction. There’s a lot less finger-pointing in collaborative environments, too. When people really feel that the greater good is the focus, the solution is way more important than who was at fault in the first place.
- Healthy employees – When people feel they are a part of something and that their ideas matter, their stress levels go down.Less stress + less infighting + less finger pointing = happier healthier workers
- Flexible employees – Critical thinking skills, staying calm in a crisis, and being able to respond with more agility to changes are just a few of the benefits to fostering a collaborative mindset. If you’re the boss, and you have an empowered and solutions focused team, imagine that you get approached not to put out the fire, but simply to be apprised of the big picture details. That customer issue that happened earlier that day? Handled.
- A higher caliber candidate pool- When the word of mouth hits the street that your shop is a great place for teams, you will attract the kind of applicants that will further the culture of collaboration and sharing. For those generations below Gen Xers, they list an environment bursting with learning and sharing from senior team members on down the line as one of their top criteria when they chose where to work.
- Better retention of talent – Happy engaged workers that feel valued and a part of something bigger stay put. Not much else has to be said about that.
So how do you do this?
- Identify the BIG goals together – Even if it’s only once a year, let EVERYONE chime in on where the company is going, and let everyone contribute ideas as to how to get there.
- Hire Teamwork focused people – asking better questions about a candidate’s ability to function on teams at past employers will get to the heart of whether a candidate fits into your newly minted collaborative environment.
- Clarify Roles and Responsibilities – When it comes to the day to day responsibilities, make sure everyone knows who does what and why. Ambiguity and confusion are the enemies of a teamwork focused workplace.
If you are already hitting it out of the park when it comes to giving everyone a seat at the table and a voice, Congratulations!
If my experiences both working in print companies and for them as a consultant is any indication, though, most of you have room for improvement.
Viva La Collaboration!
As a sales and marketing coach and consultant at Success In Print, Kelly Mallozzi advocates for graphic arts companies to start a revolution and fight to keep print relevant. She may be irreverent, but what she lacks in convention, she makes up for in smart-assery.
Listen to Kelly’s Podcasts From The Printerverse: Achieving Success In Print and Sales with Kelly Mallozzi / Strategies for Sales Success with Bill Farquharson and Kelly Mallozzi
Check out her book, co-authored by Bill Farquharson: Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How