Questions to ask if you want to build a great workplace.

lighthouse near white sailboat on body of water

Imagine you are a business leader, and you go to a consultant to put together a team to come in and observe your operation, find areas for improvement, develop a plan, and help you implement it.

You walk into the consultant’s office and go over your needs. The consultant offers you two options.

  1. “I have this team. They can get the job done but they pretty much hate their jobs. They drag in on Monday like they are being loaded on a bus to go to prison, and then, on Fridays, run out of here like they’ve been released from prison.”
  2. “I have this other team who can also get the job done. They love their jobs. They are enthusiastic, innovative, and focused on serving the customer.”

Here’s the big question. WHICH TEAM DO YOU WANT ON YOUR PROJECT?

I don’t know any leader who would jump up and say, “number one, definitely number one.” Why would anyone want a group for a project who hate their jobs and just do the minimum?

Yet, there are workplaces the world over that have environments where team members turn into just that, members of team one. With myriad rules, regulations, and policies that treat adults like kindergarten children, ranking systems that force people to compete with one another rather than cooperate and work together, arbitrary goals made by managers who don’t do the actual work, written and unwritten expectations for working ridiculous hours, etc., etc. etc., workplaces become prisons that suck the souls out of people. Is yours one of them?

Look around, are you creating team-one team members in your workplace? Do you have policies, ranking systems, arbitrary goals, inhumane expectations, and/or any number of other soul-sucking practices in your business?

I keep hearing the refrain, “It’s so hard to find good people. No one wants to work.” I find that hard to believe. What I experience is this. Good people are all around and many, most in fact, want to work, the thing is though, they become bad people and lose their desire to work when, on top of rules, rankings, arbitrary goals, and heartless expectations, they are not involved and included in decisions, are micromanaged to death and not trusted to do their jobs, and are regularly critiqued and criticized rather than encouraged.

Take a good hard look. Is your workplace full of team ones or team twos? Would you want your employees working on your project? Do you need to make changes? How about those rules? Are they infantile guardrails or are they adult and made for protection rather than punishment? How about your performance evaluation methods? Are you creating competition or cooperation? And as far as goal setting, do your team members get to contribute so that they are reasonable, achievable, and match the job? What about balancing work and non-work, are you promoting a sensible, healthy life?

Think about it. Team one or team two? Creating the best of these is completely within your power as a leader. There are lots of great people out there hungry to work. Create a place where they want to do it. Create a place where they want to stay. Stop trying to manage people and start leading them. That’s the secret to a team-two workplace and you can do it. Start now.

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