When the work needs doing, who steps in and gets it done? Now before you say ‘that’s obvious’, or ‘of course…’, or ‘it depends on the job’; just take a step back and look again at the interplay between individuals and approach to tasks within your organisation. Do some people and teams work 9-to-5 whilst others stay until the work is done? And how often do you hear the words ‘what can I do to help’ or even ‘let’s pitch in and get this done’?
How you respond will most likely be a product not just of the size of your organisation but more importantly of the culture. A colleague still remembers fondly one organisation which they worked for in which everyone from the MD downwards joined in when it was time to send out mail shots or complete end of month tasks. That sense of camaraderie, of we are all in this together, not only brought everyone together as a team, it also gave an excellent opportunity for people to share skills and knowledge.
Why is this important? Well, irrespective of what happens with Brexit, this year will be one of challenge and change. Meeting those challenges will require businesses to build some of the attributes most associated with start-ups such as flexibility, rapid development and innovative approaches; all aligned to a teamwork approach in which everyone is prepared and willing to step in and contribute.
Creating a culture of flexibility and teamwork
However, organisational approaches such as these don’t suddenly appear overnight. If you’re going to sweep aside silo attitudes then the leadership have to actively set out to create a culture which promotes flexibility and teamwork. Equally importantly, training programs need to be set in place which give people the skills which they need in order to step away from a task focused attitude.
Now I appreciate that there are some jobs which are harder to share than others. I acknowledge that I would be somewhat alarmed if the hospital porter popped up and commented that they were helping with a bit of brain surgery today as the doctors were shorthanded. But even when we are talking about such highly complex tasks, there are other ways in which people could assist in order to free up specialists to concentrate on their core duties. And when take a more holistic view of training then it is far easier for people to build the skills which they need not only to complete their own tasks but also to help others.
Irrespective of the size of the organisation doesn’t it make sense to build a skill set which enables individuals to come together in order to deliver fast and flexible responses to customer and marketplace needs? It’s time to ensure that when the work needs doing, our people have the skills to deliver success.