Over the years, I have facilitated a leadership team discussion of the results of their employee engagement surveys and focus groups. The topic of “physical environment” inevitably rises to the surface: The furniture is outdated or even broken, there are missing ceiling tiles, smudges on walls, piles of files stacked in corners…the list goes on.
The janitorial service is rarely the culprit. Their job is to ensure cleanliness, but how can they do that when there is crap all over the place?
What I find to be most interesting is that employees tend to disregard these small changes in the work environment until they become so obvious that it’s embarrassing – or some consultant comes in to discuss employee engagement.
Back in my Coast Guard days, we would do a “field day” once a month – and frankly, I think it’s a good thing to do periodically. Whether it is at the office, your cubicle or even your home, follow these five steps to tidy up the place. It should only take a half a day at the most (maybe schedule the whole day if it’s your first time, but I doubt you’ll need the whole day!) It will boost employee and team engagement, enhance your representation with your customers, and you’ll feel better as well!
First, gather the team together and explain the objective and the process: to tidy up the place!
Second: Walk around the office (or your cubicle) and take notes as to what is “off brand” – those things that are inconsistent with your brand promise. For example, my company name is “Quality Process Consultants, Inc.” so inherently in my brand promise is a notion of “quality” – presumably “high quality.” So anything that is not high quality in my workspace is “off-brand” for me and my company. Also note those things that are dirty, messy, or broken.
At this step, I often think of the times I was getting ready to sell my house. Remember the times the realtor would come in and tell you to get rid of excess stuff, paint the worn cabinets, or even do a little renovation? Oh yeah, this step is much like THAT.
Just list all the things that need to be taken care of. No evaluation. No action. Just list it all.
Third: Take the list and segment it into task and projects, along with a specific person who is responsible for the successful completion of that task or project. I call that person the “champion.”
- Some are “just do it” tasks e.g. file the papers, move the boxes, put the tools away…
- Others require a bit more effort e.g. fix the broken picture frame, reupholster the couch (or get rid of the couch and buy a new one!)
- Renovations become a project e.g. the bathroom needs a major redo!
Fourth: Just do the “just do it” tasks! Don’t wait to do it tomorrow, or the next day. Just do it now!
Fifth: Champions should work on their task or project until it gets done. Of course, that will take longer, but periodically report your progress during your weekly team huddles.
How’s that sound? You can even make it into a mini-teambuilding event: Encourage your team to wear jeans, buy pizza for lunch, crank up the music!
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.