There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Right? I’m sitting here on the 33rd floor of the Marriott Hotel Sisli, Istanbul. It’s 10.45pm and I’m tired, and need to get a good sleep tonight to be ready for our 3-day workshop with our client.
Being selfish, the timing of this trip sucks a bit. I’m just four days away from finishing my 30 day unbroken writing challenge and it’s hard enough making sure I have material written for every day when I’m at home, let alone traveling overseas. Still, I’m determined not to quit now, so bear with me! It’s a great exercise in discipline and keeping things a bit more succinct!
My topic today is your people. More specifically, I want to share some thoughts on employee engagement and managing people. But with 3 specific points in mind.
Raise morale with office away days
I’ll start by reflecting on our office away day that took place last week. It got me thinking just how important it is to take time out with your colleagues. In a small business, perhaps you run one, I find away days work best when everyone attends. Would you agree? It builds a stronger sense of solidarity and camaraderie than if part of the team is unable to join in.
If you’ve not done one, try it. Decide a budget and set that money aside. Then set a date in the calendar and pick some activities to do with that money. Try to appeal to different peoples’ tastes. You can actually have a lot of fun trying to get the budget to stretch – and it always feels good haggling with venues to get the price down.
Make sure of course that you let your clients know in advance so they know your team won’t be working that day. The world will keep spinning on its axis so long as you are sensible and plan ahead. You can then throw yourself into the day too. Your people need to see that from you. They want to know you’re in it with them.
You may remember that a couple of posts back, I wrote how having a hobby that you share with a different group of people is important for your sanity. Well, don’t lose sight of how great and individual your colleagues are either. Ask yourself this: how well do I really know the people I share the office with? Maybe you do know them well, or perhaps you don’t even know whether they’re married or have children.
In most cases, you spend more of your life in the office alongside your colleagues than you do at home with your family. Don’t you think it would be a good idea to get to know those people just a little bit better? Whilst you’re at it, taking them out of the normal office environment really helps you see how people interact in a different setting. You might just identify some rising superstars amongst your team.
Employee morale improves when you take people out of the 9-5 environment and invest in them. So what are you waiting for?
Off-site workshops deliver results
Another example of how you can invest in your people, without spending a lot of money is sanctioning off-site workshops from time to time. Give a team an 0bjective and a different setting and watch them perform.
My immediate team took a day recently and hired a lovely meeting room just around the corner from our usual office. We had a number of challenges to crack. We knew the best way to do this would be to take ourselves out of the office for a day. We achieved tons during that day. And we had fun along the way. The expense was called into question at first, but given the evidence of what we produced that day it soon became a mute point.
You are aware no doubt aware of Bruce Tuckman’s model of group development: forming, storming, norming and performing. It was first proposed in 1965. He maintained that these phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results.
Well, I reckon in various ways we went through all those phases together in one day. It was magnificent and very rewarding. We can’t wait to do the next one. In my mind, running off-site workshops like that with a specific focus or objective should be encouraged. Perhaps even as often as once per quarter. Give your managers some time to think and to put their creative hats on. They might just surprise you!
Give something back – to the local community
Working with local charities or worthy causes can work absolute wonders for your people. I recall a day spent helping build a sensory garden at a Naomi House and Jacksplace in Hampshire a while back.
Naomi House is a hospice that supports children and young adults with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions. It is a wonderful place. The staff are amazing and the families and young people they support are tremendously grateful.
Imagine if you will what a day in that environment does for people like you and me. Your awareness of the needs of a whole different group in society is awakened. Your emotions will be tested. And if, like us, you’re there to do hard labour too, you will gain from the physical exercise too.
Become aware of the organizations that operate in your neighbourhood. My recommendation is to look not for the local branch of the nationwide charities, but to find the independent causes that would really benefit from your help. They don’t have the same reach or exposure most of the time. They will likely bite your hand off if you reach out and offer to support them with a project that needs doing.
Of course, you will at times find it a hard sell getting some of your own people to buy into the idea. You see a lot of us are scared in that kind of environment of what to say or do. If we are fortunate enough to grow up without coming into contact with real poverty, abuse or critical and terminal illness, we are often unaware of how big these issues are in society.
I hope some of the points I’ve made here today speak to you. Maybe it’s given you a few ideas? Perhaps you too can put some people initiatives into place in the coming months and watch how your people respond and grow as a result.
Are you finding this series of any use? Please leave a comment below and do join the discussion on Twitter. Remember to use the hashtag: #CHA30DayChallenge
Thanks for stopping by and see you for more tomorrow friends!
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