There was a book that I read some time ago. Prior to reading the book I knew about engagement of your team and sharing information. I had not thought of it in any detail; I was relatively new to supervision. Gung Ho! changed the way that I thought about the team(s) before me. The video that I watched was cheesy at best but has, to this day, been a continual reference point for me. Realistic Perspectives, a blog reviewing the material, does an excellent job of describing the three philosophies discussed in the book. If you want to understand the concepts in detail I encourage you to read the book or website mentioned above. When I first started understanding the material I had my team sit through the dramatic video. The reactions were mixed, of course, and the message was lost with some people. Sure, the occasional snarky or smart alec remarks were shared. Around the same time I started learning about lean, continuous improvement and the eight wastes. Of those, I tend to spend a lot of time focusing on “intellect.”
Back to the story. So my department was struggling. We were not doing the best in safety, our performance was sub-par and morale was low. My department was one, when you mentioned the name, people either pitied me – or smiled the kind of smile when you got socks for Christmas as a kid. I am sure that if I looked hard enough I could have found a wall with notches for each supervisor that “went through there.” After watching the video, presented to me by an human resource manager, I decided to go down the path of Gung Ho!. I have always been a servant minded manger, sometimes to my undoing, and began to take advantage of the team that I had. I began to share the information from meetings that I had with the company with my crew. Did we make money, or lose it – if so where, how, and what did it mean? I explained why we had to do some activities that no one liked (and I didn’t necessarily support). I let the team see me as a real person. When the team worked the weekends – I came in some of the weekends to work with them. During our start up meetings I shared yesterday’s results in comparison with the week goals and made educated guesses about what I foreseen coming. Granted, I could not always predict, but I shared my opinion and facts as I had them. Let’s be clear: I did not whine or cater to a victim mentality. It was not my place to “take sides” or to belittle others to gain my teams side. When tasks came to the department I had the team members lead the groups and help in my decisions. I mean, after all, it was a team – I just was the liaison to communicate where we were and needed to go. This continued for some time – and one day I stopped. A couple days went by and the team started asking questions. “How did we do” or “where are we for the week?” It had started to take shape. It was a long road, and had more rough days than good at start but it had grown, organically, into a team.
There is no miracle. Our performance did not take us to the top of the company. It did, however, improve from our baseline. We were engaged, empowered, and moving in the same direction. If you imagine a crowd moving down the street – there were runners and walkers. There were joggers and people stopping every so often. It all had to do with intellect and the fact that people were hungry to know what they were apart of. Having a known purpose adds value and creates a pull to the what or how when we known the why. When people know how they fit in – it feels much less like a single useless dot but a part of a poitalism painting. Start with why is another good resource when digging into he deeper message of what makes us inspired – or have purpose.
In summary, I challenge you to take a moment and think about your team. Do they know what they do and why they do it? Have you shared information about the department – the company? There is something to be said for a team that is transparent and takes pride in the vital role that each plays towards the end goal. If you consider it an investment over time I am sure you too will see a decent ROI.