Team work is a funny thing. It's great until it somehow dis-proportionally effects you. You see it all the time. If one person is pulling more of the weight than the other, all of the sudden the one pulling more of the weight becomes disgruntled and start resenting those not pulling their weight. Or when things start to get tough, and all of the sudden things start to unravel, all of the sudden a connected team turns into a collections of disconnected blame artists! Teamwork, it's a funny thing!
"Great things in business are never done by one person. They're done by a team of people." - Steve Jobs
This is an inescapable truth - great things are accomplished by great teams. And like I mentioned above, one of the greatest threats to a great team is when there's a prolonged or acutely painful result born by one individual or a group of individuals within the team. When that happens, it invites division, which leads to the breakdown of the team. Great leaders can see this coming. Great teammates know how to prevent this from happening. The key? Trust, mutual concern, and communication.
Let me give a very relevant and practical example; one that hits home literally as I write this. Read the entire example as it's extremely important to the health of our team.
Yesterday, we held an emergency Account Manager meeting to discuss the incredible amount of work we have and how to get it all done. As a result of Hurricane Irma, we are still extremely over-extended and over-committed. Two months after the storm and we are still knee-deep in Hurricane cleanup work. Add to this the craziness of the fall mulch and annual demands (everyone wants them installed within a two week time frame), our normally hectic enhancement season (as all the snow birds are arriving and all want stuff NOW), the incredible demands for replanting due to the devastation of Hurricane Irma, and our abnormally large construction backlog. And if that's not enough, add to that the (now even greater) labor shortage as many roofers and screen repair companies are offering combat pay to get through their backlogs. It's as close to a perfect storm as we've seen - at least from a customer satisfaction standpoint.
(SIDE NOTE: while many landscape contractors don't think twice about disappointing clients to make as much money as possible, we at Crawford believe (1) in treating others as we would want to be treated, and (2) integrity. One of the great temptations is to slack off on maintenance and redirect all resources to replacements, thus letting our accounts become over-grown and weed infested. Crawford don't play that game!)
So yesterday we met as a team: account managers, Arbor and Construction leadership, and Keith and I. As we went through the various backlogs (Arbor hurricane clean-up, Arbor normal summer/fall work, Construction hurricane clean-up, flowers, mulch, regular enhancements, and finally landscape construction) and prioritized the work, many (actually all!) of the account managers stepped up and took ownership of their accounts and volunteered to find a way to manage the majority of the work on their sites through overtime (again, not taking away from our maintenance work because we honor our word). This lifted a huge burden off Arbor and Construction. Great teamwork!!!
BUT, and I emphasize the BUT, it sets up for what I mentioned above as our awesome, team-oriented account managers are extremely vulnerable to added stress, which can in turn lead to feelings of frustration that could eventually hurt the team. And what started out as a great show of teamwork could be the very thing that tears the team apart. So how do we prevent that (thanks for asking!)? Trust, mutual concern, and communication!
Trust: There needs to be a high level of trust between all involved. We are a team, and we ALL need to be committed to the end result: quality, service, and honoring our word. Everyone needs to trust that if they're experiencing challenges we're all in this together and available to assist - right up to myself! There's no weakness in saying "I thought I could do this, but I didn't realize (fill in the blank), and I'm having a real hard time." We will band together and help you. But it starts with trust.
Mutual Concern: I've never been around a leadership team who cares more for their team than this group. I speak for Keith, Gerardo, Mike, Phil, Shawn, and Anne when I say - we care about you! If you're struggling with something, especially our account managers and their teams with the added workload, reach out to one of us and ask for help. Beyond leadership, there needs to be a health mutual concern throughout every nook and cranny of our company. That's what teams do - they care about others on the team. This is a time, when things are tough and theirs a lot of pressure, where this mutual concern can be grown or killed off. Let's work hard to grow it!
Communication: Finally, communication is key. Trust and mutual concern are worthless if we don't communicate. Sometimes communication is hard, but great leaders and teams master it. Sharing your thoughts and feelings require TRUST, and hearing them and dealing with them appropriately requires MUTUAL CONCERN. But all is for naught if they're not COMMUNICATED. And remember, leadership is about working for those you lead; or better put, serving those you lead. And leadership at an all-star level is about serving your peers as well.
If you trust others and are trustworthy yourself, are approachable and show concern for others, communicate your issues and feelings effectively, you will be a great teammate, leader, and employee at Crawford Landscaping.
And finally, here's a little secret to take the air out of our pressure-cooker balloons. Life is bigger than our work. All we ask of you is do your best to execute our Guiding Principles while demonstrating the attributes highlighted in our Core Values. No matter how hard we work, we will fall short at times. We will mess up. People will be disappointed. But here's the deal - we're human! As a team, we can "fix" almost any mess up. As a team we have each others backs. We are in this together! So if you're stressed out and at the point of an emotional breakdown, take a deep breath, calm down, and seek help from others. I am always available and eager to help. And I know everyone else on our leadership team is as well. So don't just put your head down and keep charging alone; involve others on the team.
Have a blessed day!