On a Saturday morning in July, with a heat index close to 100 degrees at 7:00 a.m., a group of seven men, three young boys, and one women (me) came together to demolish a burned out mobile home. The county was pressuring the owner to demolish the home and the owner had no insurance or other funds available and had lost hope. Imagine what that must feel like. No money, no hope, and nowhere to turn. Until this group of compassionate people saw the need and stepped in to help.
So on that blast furnace hot morning, we arrived to tear down as much of that burned out shell as we could. Why did we do this of our own freewill? Some might think we were crazy, but I assure you we’re not. We are a group of people united by passion with a purpose. In this case, helping to show compassion to a family who desperately needed it.
From a very young age, my parents taught me the value of giving back. You don’t have to give money, and that’s unfortunately what most people think of when we talk about giving back. Each of us has something to offer, and giving back isn’t hard.
Giving back can be fun, even if the task at hand isn’t.
In two hours, we accomplished a large portion of the demolition. There was some heavy equipment involved which I definitely steered clear of. I wasn’t able to do the heavy duty work, but not everyone needed to do heavy lifting. Some people were great at operating the bobcat to knock down the remaining structure. Others were good at carting away boards and other debris from the fire, others helped make sure that the debris was placed in the dumpster to maximize its capacity.
Each person had a role, no matter how small or insignificant. I swept up ash, threw charred toys and clothes into the dumpster, made sure bug spray was liberally applied, and provided the biggest hit of the day — frozen towels to cool down those doing the heavy lifting.
But this story isn’t only about helping a family in need; it’s also about how easily this team came together and accomplished in only two hours what looked like an insurmountable task. You see, everyone there had day jobs that did not include demolition of burned out mobile homes. But each person did have skills that transferred to the task at hand, and every person there shared a passion and a commitment to help others and give back.
Isn’t this the same in our work environment? In our businesses, we bring together a group of people to accomplish a mission or a purpose. That purpose may be different from our church’s compassion project, and that really doesn’t matter because in the end, it is the same thing. We want a group of people united by a purpose or passion to achieve a goal in a timely, safe, and cost-effective manner.
Why is it so much harder to do this in business? It should be easy and yet we often fail when it comes to bringing the right group of people together.
In a church, people come together voluntarily. They show up and participate because they want to. How great would it be if everyone who worked for you wanted to come to work every day and work toward your mission?
What makes it so hard? I believe it is three simple things.
1. Lack of clarity.
The people of the church were clear about their purpose and why it mattered. In your business, is it clear to everyone what their purpose is and why it matters? If not, fix that now. Sit down with your team and tell them what their contribution means, how it affects your business, and why it makes a difference. Listen to their concerns and ideas and make adjustments to your processes or products if necessary. Then make sure you incorporate this into your hiring process, so that future employees are clear about their purpose as well.
2. Provide a realistic picture of the challenges and opportunities.
Not everything is sunshine and roses. This was a hot, dirty job that had to get done. We knew it wouldn’t be pleasant, but we understood and prepared to get through it together. This happens all the time in your business. You face daily challenges that include new and uncharted territory. When you empower people to be a part of the strategy and freely bring ideas to the table, you can quickly move through the challenges and accomplish your mission.
The men were able to work in the heat and not get eaten alive by insects because someone on the team was thinking about the challenges of demolishing a burned out mobile home on a blazing hot day doing something they had never done before. I’m not saying bug spray and cold towels were the reason the project was completed in two hours. I am saying that because the team had the freedom to bring their past experience and knowledge and contribute it toward the team goal, everyone was able to work faster and finish sooner. When you hire, make sure you communicate the challenges as well as the opportunities.
3. Provide opportunities for your team to bond.
In two hours, this small group demolished a burned out mobile home safely, cleaned up the debris, and enjoyed getting to know each other a little bit better. Relationships were formed that may not otherwise have happened because everyone has their own life outside of the church and there isn’t always opportunity to get to know each other. It’s the same in your business. Everyone has a life outside of their work and rushes off at the end of the day.
Providing opportunities for your team to get to know each other as people with lives outside of their work, helps them work together more efficiently. Having this day to work together on a compassion project brought people together and strengthened their faith and their commitment to the church’s mission. How cool would that be in your business? What opportunities can you provide to build stronger relationships on your team? This doesn’t have to be expensive teambuilding exercises or retreats. It can be as simple as an ice cream break on a hot summer day.
Share your stories of how you build your team. How do you bring them together to gain clarity, overcome challenges, and build relationships?
Your insights may be just what someone else needs to move forward. After all, sharing is caring, and in our insightful community we care about helping you succeed.