By Paul Fitzgerald
As many companies consider new strategies and employ pro-active and forward thinking responses to the demands of today’s recessionary times and its impact on the business world, the internal functions among employee rationales must change as well, according to Sandi Verrecchia, founder and owner of Satori Consulting Inc. in Burlington, ON.
Verrecchia, who has many years of experience in leadership and coaching with an array of organizations (private, government, non-profit), has been keeping a close eye on how companies are changing their business models and approaches in these tougher and more challenging economic times. For her, as a professional, this is all important when it comes to growth and survival. However, while we should embrace change, the real core of success for any organization is promoting team building and leadership in the workplace – a vital component for growth and prosperity no matter the industry.
After all, team building promotes leadership on many levels.
“Employees are the most important asset to an organization,” says Verrecchia. “Just about every organization out there is experiencing challenging times and while new business methods employed will bring success, it’s the staff that make them happen. Team building in the workplace is just as vital, or maybe more so, in achieving growth and long-term sustainability. Team building is vital in cultivating leaders in the workplace and provides positive growth, both for the workplace environment and capital gain.”
Without team building and a deliberate focus on employees, it could ultimately lead to the demise for any organization, big or small.
Here are Verrecchia’s top five tips for team building in the workplace and which cultivates leadership:
Give Your Employees a Voice: Empower your employees and give them a voice in the workplace. Get everyone into a casual setting every couple of months or so and invite senior managers and even the big boss. This is a great way to allow everyone to suggest new ideas that will help their organization grow. Make it a fun event that might include snacks or a lunch. “Get dialogue going and make it an open forum where employees can speak honestly on their ideas and how they will help the overall mission of the organization they represent. Some of the most innovative suggestions come from employees,” says Verrecchia. She indicates that openness in the workplace breeds leadership. Giving employees a voice means they can share ideas more strategically and collectively. As well, giving employees a voice makes them open to new ideas and directions a company wants to move in. Most of all, senior managers and even the CEO will get to know employees and better understand their points of view in organizational development and change management.
Keep it Casual and Cool: These days with all the change that’s going on with organizational development, it’s important for companies to move away from the formal way of employee-boss interaction. The meeting in the office where the boss sits behind a desk and an employee on the other side is over, according to Verrecchia. “Employees want casual interaction with the higher-ups,” she says. “This gives employees the reassurance they need that the big bosses – executives and CEOs – are just like them: human and key team players.” Informal interactions removes unnecessary pressure and builds confidence while maintaining healthy work relations. One cannot keep an open mind while listening or speaking when under pressure. An informal session can thereby ease the pressure and provide a sense of belonging for everyone.
Take it on the Road: Verrecchia indicates that getting employees and managers out of the office for the day – say once every six months or so – is a great way to mix thing up. “A day trip somewhere, whether it be the local zoo, museum tours, theme park, or an off-site meeting – breaks the monotony of the regular workplace routine. It’s important to take a day trip where there is lots of interaction among employees and upper management. It’s another informal process that promotes a more humanistic side of the workplace – it has a deeper meaning. During a day trip, make some time to talk about the workplace and generate new ideas for business growth. “This is another step in giving employees a voice but in a new environment,” says Verrecchia. “This approach can, in many ways, translate into better returns at the workplace.”
Let’s Celebrate!: Recognizing others for their achievements in the workplace is a great step in team building and promoting leadership, says Verrecchia. “Team spirit is great for growth and gets everyone active and allows leaders to be involved,” she says. “Even well before a deadline, celebrate the process and goals delivered to date – this keeps momentum alive and well and makes employees feel they are valued and have a sense of meaning/belonging in the workplace. After a deadline or when a new project is executed, celebrate and give employees the chance to acknowledge each other’s efforts and successes,” suggests Verrecchia.
Host Group Discussions & Leadership Training Sessions: Having group discussions where decisions need to be made is another excellent avenue where employees can seek advice from one another on the subject on hand. “Group discussions are yet another tool in empowering employees and making them feel valued and wanted,” says Verrecchia. “This also boosts confidence and brings out more employee productivity on a positive level. Group discussions also make true leaders. It’s a forum where there is an exchange of ideas and allows employees to become bigger thinkers and has them more connected with their responsibilities in the workplace.” Also, leadership training sessions and coaching are important in the workplace. Sure, training sessions might involve guest speakers and presentations, but training sessions and coaching provides a venue where learning can be and interactive or as in the case of coaching, intimate and focused on individual growth. Both promote more team spirit and keeps momentum alive.”
Verrecchia suggests that bringing a more humanistic side to the workplace promotes leadership and provides growth. She states, “Get people talking, get them interacting and get everyone on an equal level playing field brings positive results. My philosophy has always been that you get what you give. You want people engaged and empower them so that they become long-term employees. Team building only brings out the best in employees and leadership becomes clearly evident.”
It’s a proven fact that companies who do not promote team building and leadership fail in the end, or if they survive they end up with high turn – over rates with employees which is very costly.
“Employees who are valued and have a sense of meaning in the workplace means an organization grows effectively and efficiently in these changing economic times. Team building and touting leadership makes a more productive and happier workplace.”
She adds, “Organizations from every industry and sector are looking at growth during this tough economic climate. The real key to ensure growth is to focus on team building and make leaders. The employees are the staple of an organization. The employees are the ones who will help any organization. With this, leadership is paramount for any organization to grow on every level.”