Newsletter by Barbara Mintzer

Barbara Mintzer's Newsletter
The Power of a Vision... a Leader's Journey

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February 2007
Creating a Community at Work

Leaders in the workplace are charged with many responsibilities, however, "creating a community" is not one of them. I believe that in the next few years, this will change. As a society, we are more socially isolated than we were 20 years ago, and it looks like this trend will continue. Long commute times shorten our ability to spend time with family and friends. Chat rooms and e-mails bombard us with one-dimensional "talk" that stifles the face-to-face, give-and-take of friendship. For many of us, work provides the environment where we meet our social needs, as well as perform meaningful work. We look to the workplace to provide a sense of community to us; a place where we belong, we matter, and we interact with one another.

As a leader, you can foster and encourage a sense of community in your workplace. The following are strategies to help you do this.

1.    Ask your team for input as often as you can. It is understood that as the leader, you have to make important decisions. It is your expertise that is needed to make the right decisions. However, in certain instances, when there is more than one way to look at a situation, ask your team for their input. You not only get the benefit of different perspectives on an issue, but going to your team for assistance is a great way to foster community. A roundtable discussion of an issue, where each person has the opportunity to express his/her viewpoint, is a way of showing your team members that they belong and that what they say matters. In exit interviews with employees, when asked the question "Why are you leaving?" a high percentage of employees stated that "I don't feel like I belong and I don't feel that what I say or do here really matters."  We all have a need for meaning and purpose in work, help your staff feel that from you by openly and honestly engaging them in meaningful conversation.

2.    Take a personal interest in your team. How well do you know the people on your team? I ask you that because many managers I have spoken to have honestly said they did not know much, if anything, about the members of their team outside of work.They said they didn't want to meddle. You do not have to meddle and, quite frankly, you really don't want to know ALL the intimate details of the personal lives of people who work for you. That could put you in an awkward situation. However, if you did know that someone was going through a difficult divorce, or someone was having a particularly hard time with the loss of a loved one, you could provide support and assistance if this situation was interfering with their work. True, we try not to take our problems to work, but sometimes that just is not possible. Knowing your staff will help you spot the signs that need attention. A comforting word or gesture and more tangible assistance when needed, is a demonstration of caring community at work.

3.    Celebrate your successes.  When the team reaches a goal, celebrate! Acknowledge the team as a whole and all the members of the team individually. Do something to reward them and YOU for your accomplishment. Take the team out to lunch, or better yet, have a wonderfully catered lunch brought in and have lunch in a separate room at work. Have each person acknowledge the others in achieving the goal. This is community at its best. Have a congratulatory cake and perhaps a gift that all could enjoy. You may have come across a great book worth reading. If the book is expensive, you can buy two copies, and have the team members read the book, and pass it on. When all have read the book, meet again for a discussion. The synergy that this will produce is amazing. You will get insights and ideas you would not have thought of by yourself, and it is another way of creating community at work.

4.    Share your disappointments. Just as you would celebrate a success, it is important to share a disappointment. If the team misses a goal or falls short of the mark, coming together to discuss this, and learn from this, is very important. It is your job to see that this discussion does not get into a finger-pointing blame game. The purpose is to understand why the goal was not achieved and where you go from here. NOTE: You are part of the team. If you fell short in some way, if there is a lesson here that you learned, be sure to tell this to your team. One benchmark of good community is the willingness of people to be themselves, without the need for pretension or persona. Your team will respect you much more if they know you are authentic, and you can admit mistakes yourself. You are the role model.You are the person your employees look up to. Create an environment that values trust and openness and you will have community. Contact me with any questions; I would be happy to help you.

We've had some food for thought in this Newsletter. If you wish to pass it along to a colleague or a friend, feel free to do so. If that person would like to receive the Newsletter, e-mail me with the address, and I will put in on my database. If you are interested in my past Newsletters, please log on to and click on Newsletters. They are archived by subject and date, and I think you will find them of interest and of value.

About the Author

Barbara Mintzer is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant with over 30 years in business and healthcare. She speaks from experience! Her how-to programs provide participants with immediately applicable skills and strategies for getting buy-in and commitment from staff and staying on top of their professions in today's competitive and constantly changing workplace. Barbara presents keynote talks and breakout sessions for international, national, regional and state Conferences. She also conducts management retreats and in-house seminars. She facilitates panel discussions and roundtables and can be a master of ceremonies for your event...a good investment for your meeting budget. To explore the possibility of having Barbara speak at your next event, or work with your staff/leadership team, please contact her office.

Phone: (805) 964-7546
FAX: (805) 964-9636

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