Everyone loves to belong, to be a part of something. How about the employees at your utility? Do they feel they’re part of a team? If you’re looking to enhance corporate results, boost morale, strengthen your customer service and increase customer retention, take a look at the structure you have in place to foster teamwork at your utility. A whole will always be much stronger than its parts.
If your staff completed the following survey anonymously, would you be surprised by their answers? What are your answers? Rate each question with Always, Most Times, Sometimes, Hardly Ever or Never.
- Do you trust the people on your team?
- Can you communicate openly and honestly with team members?
- Do you feel like the rest of your team supports you?
- Do you feel like you are all working toward a common goal?
Here are some tips on how to strengthen your utility’s teamwork.
Define the mission or goal. If you were asked to close your eyes and, without thinking about it, point in the direction of north, how well would you do? Most people would immediately look for a reference to give them a sense of direction. Your mission statement is that reference.
Do you have a clearly defined mission for the company? Does every staff member know the mission, understand the direction of the company and comprehend their role in helping to accomplish this mission? If you don’t have a mission or goal, get your staff involved in the creation of one. With a team-developed mission statement, they are more apt to create one they really believe in and support.
Train, train, train. Use professional trainers and facilitators to help your staff develop the skills and the understanding to become an effective team. Assess whether your staff possesses the skills to accomplish the task. If not, the provide the training. If they do, then reinforce the training. All skills will dull without use. One of the most important skills people need is the ability to communicate. Blending personalities and needs in a work environment while trying to accomplish the end goal is not an easy task. It can be made much easier if everyone is on the same team. Teaching someone to be part of a team, to communicate openly and honestly is a learned skill.
Understand your employees’ values. Everyone develops their beliefs and values from parents, family and the world around them and they use them to evaluate those they interact with. Educate your team on the importance of understanding and respecting different values and the importance that beliefs play in formation of values. They play a key role in developing a strong team.
Use team evaluation tools. There are a variety of companies that provide team personality profile tools to evaluate each person and how they function in a team environment. These tools help each team member understand not only themselves but also the rest of the team. It’s a small investment toward building an effective team.
Reward failure. Name a sports team or any other team activity that, when they first started, didn’t experience failure many times before they became a cohesive team. Acknowledge failures as the learning experiences that will get you to the eventual outcome. If your employees aren’t making mistakes, they aren’t trying hard enough.
Create teams within the team. Assemble teams to handle projects and develop new products or programs. Create the assignment and let them develop the plan to achieve the outcome. Give them the opportunity to pool their talents and skills and solve the problems. Most people will rise to the challenge when given the opportunity to play a part on the team.
One of the top two reasons people stay with a company is because they feel like they are part of the organization. Does your staff feel like they are involved, like they’re part of the company, that they make a difference? If not, you could be sacrificing more than you think. A whole will always be much stronger than its parts.
David Saxby is president of Measure-X, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based measurement, training and recognition company that specializes in customer service and sales skills training for utilities. He can be reached at 888-644-5499 or via e-mail at email@example.com. Visit the Measure-X Web site at www.measure-x.com.