Tuesday, December 6, 2016

"Teams do not seek consensus; they seek the best answer."  
Jon R. Katzenbach & Douglas K. Smith, from The Wisdom of Teams

The Beginnings of Teamwork 

In our industry, the workforce and the workplace are continually changing and adapting to new trends in technology and business.  Recently, at NextGen, we have experienced our own new set of challenges and opportunities as we have moved our headquarters from our city home for the past 19 years to the suburbs of St. Louis.

 The move was designed to provide our mobile workforce with a central location and greater access to an expanded network in both the city and county. We are happy to report that we will maintain our downtown representation with our newly added office located at the T-REX building on Washington Avenue in our fair city too.  Our NextGen’s county location will be our center for operations, while our T-Rex location is home to NextGen’s team dedicated to innovation and our international initiatives. 

With this move and expansion, we are better positioned to serve both our clients and our consultants, as well as help, meet the geographic needs of our staff.  We know we must make adjustments to our business practices so that we can retain our corporate culture and team spirit, with more and more remote workers and various satellite locations these adjustments became a necessity.

How do you cultivate team spirit, unity, and keep people connected without everyone under one roof? 

For numerous businesses, the challenge is the same, and the perplexity will continue to grow as more and more companies find themselves with a virtual workplace.  We have come up with a few ideas to aid us in maintaining the NextGen mission dedicated to sound and ethical business practice, our spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation and our interest in the community.

·        Make sure to have stronger, smarter and better telecommunications and technology systems.  If you have to upgrade and make changes in your systems, it is worth the investment in helping to keep your teams connected.

·        While skyping in meetings takes a few minutes before each one to talk about personal matters and what is happening with that person, it’s like taking a break and talking with someone at their cube…without the cube.  Coffee break chatter is important.

·        Include in your budget a once a year team meeting or retreat for all including remote workers with at least one outing away from the office.

·        Jump on board with your own company/personal messaging system or app for personal communications…companies whose employees maintain personal/professional relationships are more likely to retain their talent…so include a virtual proverbial water cooler.

·        Create a team mission which means exactly that… with every team member involved, develop a mission statement apart from your corporate mission about what you hope to achieve as a team.

·        Develop a monthly aspiration or goal outside of the financial/sales/new business/numbers game and aspire to support one idea, throughout the month.  Perhaps choose a charity or a cause an employee feels strongly about and support it.

Perhaps, most importantly, in my own experience, it is important to cultivate a foundation with employees who love the work that they do, who choose a career over a job, who have a passion for getting things done and who love the process too in achieving just that.  I have always believed that it remains important to recognize and applaud individual achievement.  I also believe that building a dynamic team is critical to business success.

Lori Eaton