Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Appreciate your Workplace Team

For any school to run efficiently there will be a group people with different skill sets and ideas. Have a big happy family at work might be the ideal, as long as understanding and respect is not undermined. A variety of challenges such as lack of personal development, egos, bullies and other unpleasant behaviors can cause disruptions.

Therefore learning to appreciate your colleagues, some of their idiosyncrasies, provides a platform for a more harmonious work space. Protocol and being PC at work also provide guidelines for positive feedback to boost workplace performances.

One of the biggest ‘aha’s, although it seems rather basic, is to remember that everyone is there for the same goal. Some people will reply they come to work for the money but really they are working to provide service to the customer – the pupils. Whether it is the external (parents or suppliers) or internal (pupils and colleagues) customers, working by the philosophy ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you’ provides a honorable statement for positive workplace relationships in any school.

In one school I worked the heads of department were jostling for ‘their importance’ which was causing disruption. It was a boarding school with the kitchen, laundry, matron, sports and others. It was not until together we reminded them that they were working for the ‘good’ of the pupils. Then they relaxed and began working as a team again. They all loved their work and the positive affects but had forgotten why they chose to work in that environment.

Albeit they learnt each department had different personalities and understood the impact that had on their actions and reactions. Then they could honour their differences, rather than dismiss and ridicule them because different departments ‘did not’ work exactly the same way as themselves.

Additionally, once they were reminded of their main goal of ‘helping their pupils’ I had the platform for prompting them about helping each other. This resulted in creating win/win relationships, versus the thinking ‘I have to win and I don’t care at ‘whose’ expense. I.E. I want the budget spent on my department because it is most important.

Consequently this had resulted in bullying and emotive communication which had developed in their workplace relationships. When people appreciate their colleagues’ strengths and learn how to communicate assertively and effectively, the relationships change.

People who are using bullying tactics are indicative of those who are still playing in the playground as the pupil, stamping their feet until they get their own way. Unable to do it physically, they turn to verbal and often subtle phrases and abuse, playing a game to assert their importance.

It is inflated self-importance which reveals that this person may have lower self confidence that they profess. In an attempt to ‘boost themselves’ they try to negate the other person. Doing so, makes them feel good.

These people need to learn there are other ways to make themselves ‘feel good’ besides manipulative behaviour.

In another school, the principal was shaken when he discovered that bullying was taking place in the school office. Unbeknown to him this negative behaviour had crept in with a new full time employee who threw her authority around especially to the longer employed part-timers.

Notwithstanding, there are the negative people, unable to move past the ‘challenge’ of last week or last year, about ‘how’ things were done or not done and are not willing to
embrace the changes and move forward. The complainer and negative folk need to learn to focus on the positives rather that get stuck in the past. It might take them three months to learn a new system, whereas it took others three days.

In creating positive workplaces it is paramount to move past the ego and into the hearts of the team. People in the teaching profession and their support staff and are the caregivers in society. Albeit they have different traits, but with respect and appreciation combined, the result is a highly effective school.

Everyone has a specific task to perform and exell in. Appreciating the differences and accepting each others strengths is a key to improving the workplace relationships and thus levels of productivity in helping the students perform. One of Mother Theresa’s famous quotes was: Be Kind and Merciful. Let no one ever come to you without coming away better and happier. Maybe this is challenging philosophy to live by, but worth the effort to try. Like a ripple in a pond, the ‘good’ feeling of appreciation spreads to the pupils and into society. Creators of our future society, we need to remember another quote: Appreciation is like an insurance policy, you have to keep renewing it.