Most of us spend more of our waking hours with co-workers than with our respective families. Finding a mix of people who can work and “live” together at work is a challenge for most businesses.
Like a championship team that dominates its respective sport—I think of the Steelers or the Big Red Machine in the ’70s—occasionally the planets seem to align and a remarkable group of co-workers emerges from initially disparate individuals. This result is, of course, the dream team that every manager, supervisor, foreman or lead person aspires to have employed.
In my experience, these “comings together” are usually not a result of the gods smiling down on a company. Rather, they are a calculated result created consistently by alert, involved and concerned managers/owners. In sports, I think of the Yankees as an example of a winning culture that has endured for decades.
I think culture is the operative word here. All businesses have cultures. The successful ones, over the long haul, have cultures that breed success. This culture transcends the individuals involved. It’s bigger than an individual or group. Too often the egos of those charged with continuity get in the way of a job.
It’s not easy to create an environment of teamwork, fair play and winning. Often those who inherit the responsibility for a group of co-workers are filling the shoes of a successful predecessor or mopping up the mess of an unsuccessful one. Both of these scenarios can be daunting assignments—first because there is precedent to improve upon and second because there are often disgruntled employees to deal with.
To me the crux of any successful enterprise is communication. Experience has taught me that a policy of inclusion is always more successful than one of exclusion. From the front office to the shipping dock, I believe it’s in every company’s best interest to loop its workers into the goals, direction, and condition of the company.
In my travels to shops and businesses of all stripes, one constant of the successful ones is communication among the employees. The rumor mill shuts down when information replaces speculation. And of course communication is two way. Creating an environment that enables communication among all levels of an organization is the key ingredient to a successful company.
As we approach Thanksgiving and gather with family and friends, perhaps it would be good to take a moment to be thankful for our co-workers. In many ways, they are our extended families.