With the Olympic golf tournament this week, I want to return to the final part of the comparisons between golf and employee engagement or labor-management cooperation. We will look at similarities between them and offer some ideas about employee engagement and labor-management relationships. For example, we need to watch out for the:
Trees – The trees add great beauty to the course. They have been there for years and will remain for more. For all they add to the golf experience, they are less than appealing when you ball is directly behind one of them.
Teams will also find themselves behind trees. They are the paradigms in or workplace or organizations. Teams may hear comments like “That’s how we have always done it.” They need to recognize the challenges the paradigms present but not let them block our success. Golfers and teams need to:
Develop a Plan – When the shot location is less than ideal, professional golfers have a strategy for how to deal with the situation. Through practice, coaching, studying the course, and their experience, they know what to do next. Guesswork is replaced by advanced planning.
Teams also need to have plans for how they will proceed under difficult circumstances. They need to have the tools that can help overcome the paradigms and difficult circumstances they will face. We work with teams to develop a tool-bag of problem solving tools and procedures to help them prepare for any outcomes. They also need to:
Watch Out For The Wind – In the opening round of the Olympic tournament, golfers were plagued with strong, gusting winds that blew their shots off course and raised havoc with putting. Teams may also face strong winds created by uncertainty, opposition, rumors, competition, and other forces from inside and outside their work systems. Like the golfers, they need to be prepared for these challenges and have strategies to deal with them. They also need to be able to:
Finish – Imagine a professional golfer hitting a great tee shot, then following it up with a strong approach shot to the front of the green. They then walk up the ball, pick it up, and declare they don’t feel like putting today.
Sometimes teams do the same thing. They carefully analyze the problem they face, develop multiple good options that meet the interests of all parties, select the options they want to use, then walk away. They fail to develop implementation plans or decide the criteria that will be used to determine if their solution has been successful. Unless teams have implementation plans that address the what, when, who, and how their solutions will be put into place, it is unlikely their ideas will ever be seen. Without plans for how to evaluate their work, the opportunity for continuous improvement and process growth are lost.
For both golfers and employee engagement teams, all of these things require:
Commitment – Both being a great golfer or a member of a great team requires commitment. Professional golfers do not just pick up their clubs and head for the opening round at a tournament. Their success is a reflection of the dedication, practice, and hard work they put in.
In the same way, the most effective teams with which we have worked at CALMC have been those where the members were committed to the success of the team. They wanted to solve problems, improve the workplace, and do whatever they could to ensure the success of the organization. They knew this would require them to give their own time and energy, and are prepared to do the work necessary.
Golfers do not just buy a set of clubs and head for the course the first time. Most take lessons or get assistance with their swing and strategy. Teams must heed this and get assistance with how to effectively work together and solve problems. If your team is ready to start employee engagement or cooperative efforts, or if your game just needs some improvements, CALMC can help.