Why team building matters

At the start of December a few of us met up at Frankie and Benny’s in Greenwich for a breakfast catch up. You cannot overestimate how important a good catch up is for you and your team, especially when it involves a nice breakfast. At the time, I wrote a short news item detailing the value and importance of a good, informal catch up with work colleagues (click here).

Team building is vital if you want staff that offer great customer service, but its benefits go far beyond creating a successful business.

Avoiding isolation

COVID-19 restrictions have meant many of us have been unable to just ‘hang-out’ with our colleagues over the last couple of years. Isolation is a serious problem for many people. The Campaign to End Loneliness states lack in social contact can be as damaging to our physical and mental health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

While our technicians are out and about, meeting different customers every day, it can be a bit of a solitary job. They tend to work independently, only coming into the office to collect supplies, etc. This can be especially daunting for new employees who may feel that, although they have the support of line managers, they do not have access to co-workers for general banter. One of the reasons for the Greenwich breakfast was to introduce our newest recruit, Darren Salter, to some of his fellow technicians.

Most pest controllers love the independence that the job gives you. You can plan your day and you get to meet lots of different people. The job has diversity and that means it remains interesting. Read Michael Marbe’s ‘A Day in the Life of Pest Control Technician’ to learn more.

However, as Managing Director, I recognise that we need to find ways to bring staff members together to create a team dynamic. I value the people who work for LNPS – we are all vital cogs in the machinery that makes LNPS into an award-winning company.

Looking after your employees

Seven LNPS employees have worked with me before. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but I like to assume they wouldn’t have joined LNPS if I had been a terrible boss.

My approach to building a team has been developed over several years. It is built on personal experience and learning from good and bad examples told to me by other people. I’ve found there is no single solution to running a team that works in all situations. Flexibility is therefore important, but it must be backed by consistency in response.

A quick digression but it makes an important point. The chef Angela Hartnett was interviewed on Radio 4 last week and she talked about her previous boss – Gordon Ramsey. She talked about how when she joined his brigade, there was lots of shouting and swearing but this had pretty much gone from all kitchens (including Ramsey’s) in recent years. She told the tale of a chef receiving a verbal torrent on one of her first days. She thought it was terrible but then she learnt the chef being screamed at had been given all sorts of amazing opportunities, organised and paid for by Ramsey. Ramsey cared, he valued his staff, and he repaid their efforts, which is probably why so many of them stayed with him for years and years. The only problem was his management style was very old-school, which eventually became his TV persona.

I mention this because management culture has changed. It has even changed in Ramsey’s kitchens. The dynamic between employer and employee has shifted. Employees expect to be respected, with good employees responding to positive reinforcement.

At the same time, employers can expect more from their employees because they are more closely involved in the running of the business. There must be commitment on both sides. Most of us have at some point in our lives worked alongside someone who didn’t quite seem to be giving the same focus as you. This is frustrating for management and co-workers. I believe in the team and one person not being fully engaged diminishes the whole and the efforts of everyone else.

We all know the phrase, “a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.” This motto of the American Federation of Labor still holds some validity in the 21st century, but I think it is equally valid to say, “a fair day’s wage deserves a fair day’s work.”

Flexibility works both ways

As I say, flexibility is important. As an employer, I expect my staff to be flexible in terms of the jobs they do. In return, I must be flexible and available for them when they have a problem. I have to make time for them. This is why breakfast catchups are so important.

Something I really dislike is when senior management plan to meet an individual or the whole team, and then fail to turn up or cancel at the last minute.

What kind of message does this send to the workforce? Very often, they will have made sure their uniform is pressed, van cleaned, etc. and then the boss doesn’t arrive because something more important came up!?! This says one thing – “you are not as important as…” What a terrible thing to tell your employees.

We must never forget that it is the pest control technicians in the field who do the day-to-day work that makes the company a success. If they feel undervalued, the quality of their work will diminish, and this will ultimately mean dissatisfied customers.

Look after your staff and they will look after you

In our busy lives, there are a thousand demands on our time, but employees must always be at the forefront of our minds as managers. Team building events and professional training ensures they know they are valued, and they have multiple benefits for the individual and the company:

  • Better mental health for employees
  • Ensuring best practice throughout the business
  • Better customer service
  • Improved staff retention
Image from Pixabay