Spring Cleaning

If you’re like me, you had been waiting for Spring to be Sprung.

It’s that time of year. Sun is out, flowers are blooming and we get the urge to clean closets and start new.

Starting with my clothes, I have to face the fact that I may never again be a size 0 and if I was, would I really want to wear these pants from the 80’s? And then there’s the fear of getting rid of something that might be worth a lot in the future . Should I get rid of my Avon Barbie? Are there things that could be recycled? Can my trash become someone else’s treasure? So, do I give it away or try to fix it up or just stuff it in a box for the next round?

Can this process of spring cleaning be used in our professional lives? What about our teams? I believe it is a great time to look at them and see if the dynamics still work. Are your employees moving ahead or have they been left behind? Is everyone engaged or is negativity creeping into the group? If so, what do you do?

We don’t usually get the chance to start from scratch but here’s an interesting exercise to put on paper: write down what positions and/or talents you would love to have on your team. After doing this, assign names of employees who match; it will give you a map of where you are and where your group is lacking. There are things you can do to improve the team.

Negativity is the biggest cancer and has the biggest effect on your team. Negaholics can undermine everything you are trying to do and they bring down others. I have had great success in counseling negaholics, having an honest conversation about how they feel about what they are doing and what their frustrations are. Then you have a conversation about what makes them happy. I worked with a restaurant group that had a negaholic and in talking with her I found out she was studying fashion in school and her passion was clothes. I suggested she might be a lot happier working in fashion retail rather than a restaurant. She can work with clothes and get some experience in her chosen field. That’s called creative termination. She gave notice a week later and she was happier and the restaurant group was happy too.

Of course, you might learn you have some employees who are lacking skills you need. Now is a good time to provide some outside training. Most employees are anxious to gain new skills or improve on current skills. Align employee goals with company goals and make it clear how they contribute to the end results.

Any bullies in your group? That’s a whole subject on its own but very often I see companies and team leaders tolerating bullies because they don’t think they can do anything about them because they have been there forever or are related to someone in management. The bully affects your team, your co-workers and sometimes your customers. Be sure to obtain support while you confront the behavior. Let them know the rules have changed and they need to change behavior or leave.

Have employees who just aren’t making it but they are nice people and good employees in other regards? Those are the tough ones. They haven’t done anything to deserve termination but are not adding to the progress of the group and the goals. They are probably not pulling their part of the load and there may be resentment from others in the group. So what do you do? First, I think you try to make them step up their game. Give goals that will force them to work up to par. Too often, they are allowed to go at their own pace. Give responsibilities or new things to learn as you would to any other employee on the team. If they can’t handle it then it’s time for a conversation and perhaps another creative termination. My experience with this has shown, you are not doing them a favor by keeping them in a job where they are not happy or successful. If a creative termination doesn’t present itself as in our story above, then you need to start documenting and working toward termination.

I never said spring cleaning would be easy! I have emotional attachments to things in my closets and they are only material things. We are talking about human beings in our groups who have feelings, families and mortgages, etc. it’s difficult to balance that with company and team goals. That’s why I ask you to always do what you do with compassion. And of course if you need help with your group, call me at Positive Team Builders. I can’t help you free your closet of polyester leisure suits or 80’s acid washed jeans, but I can help you create a successful and positive team.

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