ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - January 2002


Issue Highlight — Teams Are Awesome!
-In Teams Are Awesome! -- We offer you the power, energy, and innovation that come out of teams working together to improve their work, their work environment, and, as often as not, themselves. They truly inspire awe. Here we present four teams selected at random from those who have entered AQP's Team Excellence Competition.

  In This Issue...
Fish Philosophy and Teamwork
Connected But Not Connecting
Thriving Through Teamwork
Ten Compelling Reasons Why Your Company Shouldn’t Downsize

Peter Block Column

Brief Cases

Return to NFC Index

   Brief Cases        Highlights of the Latest in Business News

                                    ne From Column B                                             

The New Challenge
After the events of September 11 many professionals recognized the aftereffects would take a toll on countless factors in their lives—both business and professional. According to a recent article posted on, while many managers report they continue to deal with these consequences daily, they must also take the time to consider how to appropriately handle these sensitive situations.

  According to the article, these problems can manifest themselves in various ways from decreased productivity to anxiety attacks. In one example, the article describes the dilemma of Greg Malever, the chief executive of Lanta Technology Group in Atlanta. After the attacks, one of his employees decided to bring a television to the office. Malever watched as fellow employees gathered around hoping to catch up on the latest news briefs. Malever knew it was time to step in, so he allowed employees to quietly rely on the Internet for any pertinent information.

   Other organizations, such as those that rely on creativity for their productivity, also witnessed a serious decline in imagination. Jonathan Bond, co-chairman of Kirshenbaum Bond Creative Network, an advertising agency in New York City, decided to let employees focus their energy elsewhere in order to re-start their ingenuity. Instead of running back to work after the tragedies, he instructed employees to go toward other avenues to help them recharge, such as a public service campaign providing postcards to mail to New York’s police and fire departments.

That’s What Friends Are For
When arriving at work in the morning, is there someone you always go straight to see? Sure there is work you should begin, but would it really hurt to tell your best friend at work what you did last night? Many managers might say “yes”—and, according to a recent poll published on, those managers would be wrong. In fact, the results demonstrate that fostering these friendships should be a managerial priority.

   That’s right, a recent poll conducted by The Gallup Organization determined that having a best friend at work can turn a moderately engaged worker into a highly engaged one. And, it’s no surprise that workers who are engaged are more likely to contribute more to an organization’s bottom line. Most of the information gathered that has led to these beliefs came from Gallup’s Q12 workplace evaluations, which measure how well workers’ various needs are met. High survey scores indicate strong employee engagement.

  After conducting these surveys, one main finding was that having a friend at work won over even the most obvious of motivators—including pay and benefits. They also found that profitability and customer loyalty are strongly associated with a high incidence of best friends in the workplace.

   Here’s just one example of these findings in the real world: Fifty-one percent of participants who had a best friend appeared engaged while only 10% of those without a best friend could say the same.

Manager or Referee?
Business meetings can be long. They can be boring. They can be unproductive and useless. All of these factors can lead to untimely outbursts by employees who may be running on a short fuse. And anyone who has worked in a company for an extended period of time knows that the meeting room isn’t the only place where sudden fights can break out. They can come from anywhere, and a recent article published by The Wall Street Journal Online reports that breaking up these fights is a critical management skill.

  In the article, Bruce Parry, chief counselor at IPS employee assistance in Sydney, Australia, notes three keys for managers to create a less tense workplace:

  1. Remember to create the right environment. Managers receive promotions on the basis ofskill in their field, thus many lack the interpersonal skills necessary to achieve balance among employees. Make a point to consider how the team itself is doing in meetings and other socialized situations.

  2. Don’t wait too long to jump into a bad situation. Don’t wait until the problem has escalated and is out of control. Watch out for problems and help out before they go too far.

  3. Listen closely for hidden problems. Often a large problem may lay behind a more innocent one. If the dilemma appears serious, Parry suggests going to other parties to get a well-rounded idea of the problem at hand.

Just a Little Magic

After the recent tragedies many Americans experienced the sudden urge to give back through volunteerism. While working for a local homeless shelter or helping the Salvation Army during the holiday rush continues to provide undeniably healthy ways to help others, one woman decided to inspire her employees by using a slightly less conventional method—Harry Potter.

   According to a recent article from, the employees of Deploy Solutions, Inc., in Westwood, Mass., have organized themselves into four teams—the Gryffindors, Slytherins, Hufflepuffs, and Ravenclaws—to compete against one another to make the biggest and best contribution to various charities. After those who chose to participate divided into four teams (in a very Harry Potter-esque manner), they began competing. Last month they set forth with the challenge to create the most imaginative receptacle for holding canned foods for Deploy’s inaugural Harry Potter food drive.

   Although the idea began before September 11, Nicole Stata, founder and president of Deploy, notes, “It’s important to recognize that the September 11 events took place during work hours. We were attacked at work, and now we're rebuilding at work. This program is helping us cope and rebuild, but it’s also increasing productivity, strengthening relationships, and helping Deploy align itself behind some good causes.”

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