January 21, 2013
Recognize the Gifts of your Team Members by Jerry Murray
The other day, I attended a local baseball clinic with my 8 year old son Jared. Like me, Jared loves baseball. He could play every day of the week.
As a couple dozen kids lined up to start throwing, one particular kid named Jacob stood out to me. I was fascinated by how gifted he is at catching the ball. For young players, a game of catch often turns into a game of fetch. As kids develop arm strength, coaches regularly remind young players to slow it down and throw to their target to give the kid receiving the ball a chance. Jacob didn’t need any help to have a chance. He caught everything – regardless of where it was thrown or how hard. He had both great coordination and soft hands.
I played baseball from the time I was 5 until I was a senior in high school. I’ve coached the sport for the last few years. I’ve always enjoyed baseball. From that perspective, it was not surprising how much fun I had watching this young player catch the ball. As I think about it though, I realize that Jacob was most impressive to me because he had a gift that was different than mine. I do NOT have soft hands. I had a strong arm and was a decent fielder, but I never developed the type of hands that I saw in that young player. Even today, my wife Kim will joke about how my lack of fine motor skills often turns basic household repair projects into major expenses (when someone gets called in to fix my mistakes). There are other things I’m good at – just not those requiring fine, precise movement. It’s why I’d never be a great surgeon, carpenter or mechanic. Even if I can understand the process, my hands are not likely to get the job done efficiently.
Standing there at the baseball clinic, I smiled as I considered how God gives each of us unique gifts. It was a clear reminder. Good teams attract team members with different gifts. Great teams REQUIRE them. Unfortunately, I can think of occasions when I discounted someone else’s gifts because they were different than mine. I can also think of times when I allowed gift-envy to impact both my gratefulness for and use of my own talents. Both thought processes limit the opportunity for optimal team effectiveness.
Look around your organization and smile at the different gifts that you see. Notice the collection of talents; appreciate them; appreciate your own. As you do, acknowledge one another’s gifts and encourage one another to use them to the best of their ability to reach your organization’s highest potential!
November 20, 2012
Thank You by Daryl Leisey
With a background in human resources, I have been asked on numerous occasions about the types of recognition and reward programs I recommend to help boost morale and encourage greater productivity. Invariably, I ask how often they routinely say “thank you” to the individuals they want to encourage. On more than one occasion their response has been: We don’t – that’s why we want to put a program in place.
Reward and recognition programs can be very appropriate and useful tools in expressing appreciation and encouragement. However, apart from the simple practice of saying “thank you”, those programs can actually be detrimental because they may come across as being contrived and not genuine.
For some, genuine expressions of gratitude are not only a natural part of what they do but who they are. For others, saying “thank you” is rarely a part of their conversation let alone their thinking. As leaders and influencers, the power of a well-timed and genuine expression of appreciation is one of the most powerful things we can do. Busyness and the assumption that the other person already knows how we feel are just two reasons why we tend to neglect the practice of saying “thank you”. Someone once said that as humans we have a greater need for being reminded than for being taught. I find that is often true with me when it comes to saying “thank you”.
What can serve as a reminder? Set aside a few moments each day to consider what you are grateful for and who should be thanked. Be generous. For a period of time, when our children were younger, we would take a few moments as we sat down to dinner to say one thing for which were thankful. (There is nothing like delaying a meal to get the mind going). Forced? Perhaps. But it was a practice that helped us focus on thankfulness.
As we approach this Thanksgiving holiday, remember that there is much for which to be thankful. If you have not done so, take the opportunity to develop an attitude of gratitude and to cultivate the generous discipline of genuinely saying “thank you”.
September 20, 2012
Team Victories are More Fun by Jerry Murray
My friend Dave is probably the best project manager that I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. He’s not just operationally strong, he’s also fearless and direct in his approach to communications. He’s willing to address almost anything and he receives direct feedback well if it’s for the benefit of the organization that he’s working with.
Several years ago, before we had the opportunity to work together, I met Dave for breakfast at Oregon Dairy Restaurant. When I walked into the restaurant, Dave was at the table drawing a picture of a boat on the flip side of his placemat. Of course I asked Dave, “What’s with the boat?” Dave’s explanation of the “celebration boat” struck me then and resounds with me even more strongly today. On the boat were several seats and in each seat was the name of someone. As he explained it, Dave was getting ready to embark on a business project and before he did, he wanted to create a picture of the team members that he would join with to celebrate that project’s success.
As I got to know him, I was impressed that an extremely high performer like Dave seemed to value team success even more than individual success. I remember thinking that Dave’s approach seemed thoughtful, but risky…. trusting that a team of individuals could combine their competencies and efforts for one goal that they would work toward together. To buy into Dave’s approach, I would have to disregard the theory that people in organizations are often most productive when they are individually motivated and rewarded. I’m very glad that I did.
Prioritizing and defining success in terms of team goals above individual goals yields MANY valuable byproducts. The list is extensive. A few of those benefits are:
- Team members expand their thinking to topics beyond their departments. Their expanded thinking grows the overall intellectual property and effectiveness of the team.
- Team members are more likely to create built-in accountability and rely less on accountability and disciplinary measures from their team leader.
- Team members become eager to discuss how to overcome obstacles and barriers toward their mutual goal, rather than avoiding those uncomfortable topics for fear of offending someone.
- Celebrating is more fun when an entire team is involved.
- Team member successes build unity in an organization, solidify core values and clarify definitions of organizational success.
On Sunday, my daughter Hannah and I watched the last few seconds tick off the clock at Lincoln Financial Field as the Philadelphia Eagles defeated our Baltimore Ravens. As we looked around the stadium at the capacity crowd celebrating wildly, I thought about how much fun it must have been to be an Eagles’ fan at that point. It was a picture of a shared celebration – the best way to celebrate a victory!
April 20, 2012
Power Packs Project - the New Summer Program by Sheryl Eberly
In celebration of North Group’s 15th Anniversary we’re supporting Power Packs Project. This community organization provides food-insecure families with weekend food and education on how to cook low-cost healthy meals. Each Thursday, Lancaster County kids take home from school a simple recipe and the ingredients to make it. Power Packs’ goal is to assure that they return to school on Mondays, well-fed and ready to learn. Read more about Power Packs here.
Here’s what we’re doing:
Helping Power Packs fund a Summer Program. Approximately 100 families will be served by this as Power Packs partners with local community groups that connect with kids in the summer.
- The Summer Program has a budget of $6000 and Rotary of Lancaster kicked off the program with a gift of $2000. North Group is contributing $1500 toward reaching the goal. That leaves $2500 that is still needed.
- We're raising awareness of Power Packs and encouraging others to contribute to the $2500 still needed to close the gap for the Summer Program.
To give a financial gift, go here and download a form to include with your contribution. Please put your name on it and send it directly to Power Packs Project. (Because Power Packs provides food, we aren’t seeking food donations.)
Last week our firm took a tour of the food warehouse and then went to a school to see food being distributed. Join us here for a video tour. We’re more convinced than ever about the value of Power Packs’ mission.
Think there’s no hunger in our community? In 2004, Power Packs Project’s founder learned that 97% of children at Carter and MacRae Elementary School were eligible for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program and that many students regularly line up outside, regardless of weather, for breakfast before school. For some, this was their first meal since lunch the day before.
What do these kids do on weekends? Some go hungry and parents of others face the difficult decision to feed their children or pay rent. School nurses have reported that Mondays are the busiest in their offices, with children presenting secondary signs of hunger.
There is a real need here, and Power Packs Project provides a way to meet it. We welcome you to join us in providing kids help.