How To NOT Create An Us vs Them Work Environment

People say competition and conflict are good for business but that is definitely not the case in your own organization. A silo mentality between departments or branches will be detrimental to the optimum performance of the team, while a lack of communication down the chain will lead to gossip and low morale. Here are five ways to bring everyone closer together and pulling in the same direction.

Office Politics

They say once you’re the boss, you soon forget what the proverbial excrement smells like from your high tower. One tricky thing of being a boss is keeping yourself grounded and thinking about the little guys. Even after a few months newly promoted, you’ll look in the mirror and see the person you swore you’d never become. The good news is you don’t need to go all Undercover Bosses to gauge your workforce. A great way to keep your feet on the ground is to sit your rear near them. Sure, you worked hard to get your name on that door and some peace and quiet at last but your own cabin will soon lead to you peeping through the blinds listening for whispers of mutiny by the coffee machine. At the very least, have an open door policy and get out for a chat regularly to visit the troops.

Departments Declassified

A common problem is that different departments in the same workspace don’t mix together. They have their own tasks, own objectives and own targets to achieve. This often results in poor communication, planning, and utilization of the company’s arsenal of assets. Subtle territorial borders can lead to disaster as some departments become their own hermit kingdoms, complete with unofficial customs boarders set up between a filing cabinet and a pillar to stop any outsiders trading goods or spying for information. One way companies have attempted to get departments mixing is through ‘hot desking’.  This is where no one actually has their own desk and each morning every employee is assigned a random seat. The negative side is you could end up miles away from the rest of your team using chat and wondering why you bothered coming in. However, you’ll get to meet the other teams and see what they get up to. You never know, a simple ‘Nice to meet you’ could lead to a career defining Eureka moment.

Branching Out Without A Pile Of Leaves

For anyone that’s seen the Office US, you’ll know that one company buying a rival one out can leave the newly inherited employees a bit disgruntled and even the best ones soon jumping ship. They liked the old ways of doing things, think there’s preferential treatment and fail to see that this is progress for all. One way Iglu.com eradicated any risk of this when they acquired Planet Cruise was to get employees visiting the two different offices, between Portsmouth and London, on a regular basis as they shared projects. This tactic in every department, from HR and IT to Marketing and Sales, resulted in the two branches molding together quickly and seamlessly to become one smooth unit in spite of the distance.

The Recipe For Motivation

One thing often overlooked is how to keep the little guys happy and stop them grumbling. A quick way to motivate them is to let them see the bigger picture and where their hard work fits in. Sure, their job may be putting cherries on the cakes, but you don’t need to tell them the secret ingredient to get them baking to their best, feeling valued and with a clear vision. Another common gripe is management having endless meetings discussing one guy who is actually beavering away outside. Use meeting ice breakers to make everyone comfortable and keep everyone on task. Instead of wasting everyone’s time and giving them a vague objective after, have a one-to-one sit down, communicate directly what the task is and why, and most importantly talk through any queries and suggestions they may have. This could even lead to an otherwise unthought-of breakthrough. Sure, this guy only knows cherries, but they know them the best.

Laugh, Learn And Work Harder

A great way to combat all these barriers of rank and unit dividing your workforce is to get them mixing socially as much as possible with certain events. This doesn’t have to be forced and awkward team building sessions catching each other in a muddy field or a HR nightmare of a party. There are many natural ways to bring different people together. Language, software, First Aid or product training is a great way to naturally get different people in a room chatting. Meanwhile, dinner break and after work hobby and sports clubs are also a great way to get the masses mixing. This could be five-a-side football, chess or yoga, or something more out of the box like calligraphy, creative writing workshops and starting a band. This doesn’t have to eat into your budget either, simply get each employee to come up with a class or session they could host and give it a go!

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