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Monthly Archives

December 2014

How to create a cohesive team atmosphere in a large organization

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No matter what type of organization you work in, team building matters. A strong team can remain focused even when the workload is higher than usual or financial problems mean everyone has to work longer for a pay raise. It means better coordination of tasks and better utilization of talent. In a large organization, however, it’s impossible to be there for all your employees—it may be difficult even to address them all at once—so a subtler approach may be necessary.

Healthy motivation

Over the past two decades, the idea that competition is the most effective way to motivate people in the workplace has become more and more prevalent—and has corresponded with an escalating rate of stress-related illness associated with work. Although some people can be strongly motivated by competition, it soon becomes depressing for those who keep finding themselves at the bottom of the heap—intense competition does not necessarily reward those who are doing the most diligent and important work. A healthier way to motivate people is to set team goals that don’t involve competing with other teams, and to adjust those goals so that each employee has something meaningful to contribute. Individual team managers can take responsibility for this, and their success can be measured using metrics that take into account employee satisfaction levels.

An inclusive approach

Team building is about making individual employees feel valued and valuable as part of the group. Rooting out workplace bullying is essential, as is helping employees work around difficulties they may have, such as those caused by disabilities or care responsibilities outside of the workplace. Providing people with clear roles, whether ongoing or project-based, helps with this, and it is more important to give employees the chance to use their talents than to raise their status. Good work must be rewarded, even if it is simply with praise, and training programs should be available to help employees develop further—showing them that the company is willing to invest time and resources in them. Rather than introducing team-bonding events that some people may feel uncomfortable with, use simple techniques like celebrating birthdays in the workplace, providing shared snacks and putting comfortable furniture in break rooms to encourage a relaxed social atmosphere.

A shared vision

Although your business will operate more successfully and employees will feel more secure with a clear hierarchy of responsibilities in place, a successful team works in two directions. As Sukanto Tanoto has shown, giving everybody the opportunity to contribute ideas means that the business can grow stronger by utilizing insights from any level, while employees feel more committed to something that they have contributed to. In this way, the company’s success comes to represent their own success. It is then down to the company owner to articulate the vision that employees have helped to form, and to lead the team. No matter how large the organization, employees can be excited about working together when they see themselves moving toward a shared goal.

ASIS and SHRM Provide the American National Standard for Workplace Violence & Prevention

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workplace violence

Workplace violence is any action that threatens the physical safety and/or psychological wellbeing of employees and visitors or that causes damage to company property. Violence is often categorized into three levels, as follows:

Level 1 – Verbal Aggression

  • constant refusal to cooperate
  • spreading rumors to harm others
  • being aggressively argumentative
  • belligerent behavior towards others

Level 2 – Unreasonable Behavior

  • refusal to obey company policies and procedures
  • sabotaging equipment and/or stealing property for revenge
  • sending sexual or violent notes to co-workers or management

Level 3 – Physical Acts

  • making suicidal threats
  • physical fights
  • destruction of property
  • commission of a murder, rape or arson

The workplace setting plays a key role in whether a person may become violent. Workplaces that demonstrate a lack of caring for employee well-being; do not focus on building a respectful workplace culture; do not effectively handle grievances, have ignored reports of aggressive behavior or violence; do not train managers and employees about violence; or do not show a commitment to employee safety, are certain to have incidents of level 1 violence, with the increased risk of level 2 and 3 violent acts occurring.

On the other hand, workplaces that are safe and focus on building a healthy culture of civility, that minimizes stress and that handle grievances and reports of aggression effectively, are less likely to experience workplace violence.

Sure, you can implement a policy and offer a one-hour training program on violence, for example, and hope that it stops. But my motto has always been that culture is an important piece of the equation. Culture dictates behavior, and therefore it deserves some attention when safe-guarding your workplace from incivility, bullying and violence.

Someone recently forwarded me this awesome 50 page booklet by ASIS and SHRM, so I thought I’d post it. I like this booklet because although it doesn’t specifically say so, it is focused on culture change when implementing a workplace violence prevention policy. Here are some of the highlights (with my two cents in italics):

Your policy should:

  • clearly define unacceptable behavior (you should also have a policy that clearly defines acceptable behavior too)
  • require anyone and everyone to make a prompt report of policy violations
  • provide multiple avenues for reporting those violations
  • assure confidentiality and discretion when a report is made
  • include commitment to address retaliation should it occur
  • impose consistent discipline

People involved include:

  • human resources
  • security
  • legal counsel
  • occupational safety and health personnel
  • union
  • employee assistance (EAP)
  • crisis and risk management
  • public relations

Training should include:

  • behavioral and psychological aspects of violence
  • risk factors for your specific organization
  • information about your organization’s specific policy, and rights and obligations under that policy
  • how to identify problem behavior
  • how to report problem behaviors
  • basic information about intimate partner violence
  • how to respond in an emergency
From a prevention aspect, additional training should include:
  • what positive workplace behaviors are
  • how to act in a professional and positive way
  • emotional intelligence
  • stress management
  • optimism and resilience
  • communication skills