WORK ON PURPOSE: Is TEAM Missing in Your Work?

I recently received a request from an editor of one of the magazines I regularly write for asking me to respond to the following question. I thought my response might prove helpful to others who are interested in building a Business On Purpose. Here’s the question:

After 6 1/2 years at the same animal hospital, I have noticed a lot of changes in the work environment.

But the worst and the hardest to overcome is the negative tension that flows through here. It has happened recently with a lot of employee turn over and the fact the practice owner is not always the easiest to get along with. How can I help the entire team come together and stop criticizing each other personally and professionally?

Here is my response:

There’s nothing wrong with your work environment but it does sound like something is missing, and the missing element is “Team.” And there’s an effective 3 point method for developing a team that is aligned and able to work together.

Step One – Clean the slate of past issues, problems and upsets. This can be the most challenging step but also the most important. Old issues that were never completed upon can fester for years and develop into a negative atmosphere where no one wants to come to work. Gossiping, backbiting, and chronic complaining are symptoms that past unresolved issues have taken over. Since many of these issues stay in the background of the staff’s awareness, quietly undermining the team, it’s important to bring them to the surface where they can be resolved. In some cases, this can take weeks or months of concerted effort, but it’s vital to the team.

Step Two – Once the slate has been thoroughly cleaned, the next step is fairly easy and can be a lot of fun. Identify the common commitments, interests and values that have brought you all together, like your common love for animals, your desire to make a difference, your interest in providing for yourself and your family. These shared commitments become the foundation upon which to build the next step.

Step Three – Create a vision for what’s possible in the future and begin to operate to bring that vision into reality. For this step to be truly effective, Step One needs to have been thorough. Otherwise, those past issues will raise their ugly head. Of course, if only a few matters crop up at this point, it’s fairly easy to resolve them and move on. But if you find creating a vision for your practice is arduous, go back to Steps One and Two.