Tag Archives: team

How Does Culture Retain the Team?

Ray was looking at his list. “So, I can count on losing this person. They already gave their notice. And I know they will continue to have contact with the other team members, so I know they will talk with each other.”

“Yes, they will talk. And they will talk about money. And money will appear to be the only reason to work at one company versus another. In what way can you, as a manager, put this in perspective for your team. In what way can you effectively communicate, effectively remind people about the other reasons people work, the other reasons people work here?”

Ray was shaking his head, then nodding his head. “So, it turns out that our team culture is really important after all.”

“Yes, when we sit and talk about job satisfaction, matching people’s talents with job requirements, matching people’s capability with the challenge level in the position, creating a trusting work environment, you think I am talking about being warm and fuzzy. The reason that stuff is important, the reason you have to pay attention, is to win this war against competitors. And you can’t win it with money.

“And if all your competitor has to offer is money, then you will make it very expensive for them. And in the end, their cost structure will be out of whack, and you will still win your customers. Culture eats the competition for breakfast.”
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The Decision is Yours

Victor was staring at the floor, head cupped in both hands. “What a stupid decision.” He was quiet. I was quiet. Silence can do a lot of heavy lifting.

Finally, he continued. “I want to involve my team in decision making. But when we take a vote, they often make the wrong decision. As their manager, I feel like a heel, going against their vote. But I don’t want to let them do something stupid and waste a bunch of time.” He lifted his head.

“Victor, first, do not let them vote. Between you and your boss, who is accountable for this decision?”

“Well, I am,” he said.

“If you are held accountable for the decision, then you have to make the decision. You can involve your team, ask them for input, but you are the manager, the decision is yours to make. Here is what this sounds like to your team.

“Hey, Team. As your manager, I have a decision to make. This is an important decision and will have an impact on every team member here. So, I want to you to help me consider all the angles. After I consider your input, I have to make this decision. When I do make this decision, I will need your support and your full efforts to make this happen. So, who has the first idea?

“Victor, understand, people will support a world they help to create, even if it is not totally their idea. You should involve them, but the decision is yours.”

Who Is Accountable for the Goal?

“Our goal, their goal? What’s the difference?” Brent retorted.

“The difference is your relationship with the team, their relationship with you and your understanding of who is accountable,” I replied. “When they don’t meet your goal and you come down on them, how do you think they feel? What is their attitude toward you?”

“They know I am disappointed in them.”

“No, they get pissed at you.”

“Pissed at me?” Brent sat back. “I am not the one who is supposed to be selling, they are.”

“You are right. As the leader, I expect you to devote full attention to the management of this sales force. Which is why they are pissed at you.”

“I still don’t get it. Why are they upset with me?”

“Assuming they are doing their best, and you are still falling short of your goal, who is the only one who can hire more salespeople? Who is the only one who can schedule overtime? Who is the only one who change the assignment of leads? Who is the only one who can change their collateral literature? Who is the only one who can set selling margins?”

Brent was silent, then finally spoke, “That would be me.”

Group Accountability?

“At first, this group dynamics stuff looked interesting, you know, everyone together under a team incentive bonus. It sounded exciting in the seminar, but in real life, this is painful,” Naomi explained. “The worst part, is we’re not getting any work done.”

“So, who is accountable?” I asked.

“I think everyone has to take a small part of the responsibility for the team not cooperating,” Naomi replied.

“No, I don’t mean who is responsible for the mess. I mean, who is accountable for the goal?” I insisted.

“The goal? We’re not even talking about the goal. We are just talking about cooperating better together, as a team.”

“Perhaps, that’s the problem,” I suggested. “You are spending so much time trying to cooperate as a group, that you forgot, we are trying to get some work done around here.

“Is it possible,” I continued, “that you have been misdirected to think more about shared fate and group dynamics than you have about your team. A team is not a group. A group may be bound together by shared fate, but a team is bound together by a goal. Stop thinking about group dynamics and start thinking about the goal. That’s why we are here in the first place.”