The temperature of the building is not about how cold/warm the offices are. It is about what is going on, and how people are feeling.
You can have the most innovative open floor plan, with kitchen, pods, game rooms and all the best accommodations, but if the culture is bad, then so is the temperature.
Today I am bringing an excerpt from a very interesting book called “You win in the locker room first”. The book is great – suggest you take time to read it all. Here goes the paragraph that talks about the temperature of the building, and Leading by Walking Around. Enjoy!
Leading By Walking Around (Mike Smith – former NFL Coach)
A big part of taking the temperature of the building is leading by walking around. You can’t make great decisions by sitting in your office. The most effective leaders are the ones who are mobile and visible throughout the building, not just in the office but also in the training room, locker room, and cafeteria. You lead by leaving a footprint in every area of the building. When you interact with your team and organization all over the building you break down that separation of upstairs and down stairs, office and locker room.
Each day I made a couple of trips to the training room to visit with players who were getting treatment. When players are in the training room during the season, they fall into one of four categories. The first is that they are injured to the extent that they will not be able to play anymore this season. The second is that they are definitely out for the upcoming game or longer. The third is that they are injured and have a chance to play in the upcoming game. The fourth is that they are receiving maintenance treatment and will be available to play. I always wanted them to know that regardless of their individual situation I was concerned and interested in how they were doing, regardless of their practice status. Some of the best conversations I have had with players have taken place in the training room.
The visits to the weight room were of equal importance. It let them know the work that they were doing with the athletic performance department was a huge part of the success of the organization. In fact, depending on the time of year, assistant coaches and members of the personnel staff would be using the weight room at the same time. This was just another way to strengthen the culture and communication in the organization.
The cafeteria is another opportunity to have conversations with the players in a different setting. Sitting down and having a meal with someone allows for conversations to take place in a more comfortable atmosphere. I learned a lot and developed great relationships with my players just by talking to them during meals.
And of course I spent a lot of time in the locker room. I would often walk in and just look around to see who was talking to who, what the energy was like, and what the overall mood of the team was. I felt that these different views of the building were essential. If you make visits to these different areas, you will be amazed by what you will find out. You will be able to feel the pulse of the team and learn who is connecting and what potential issues are arising. Once the issues are identified, you can confront them before they become bigger problems that can sabotage the team dynamic. I realized that a big part of winning in the locker room is making sure you know what’s going on down there and shaping the team and culture before it shapes you.
Here are my top 3 stories about this subject:
– While working at a very busy and low margin business- you could feel the tension in the air. It was so bad that even the water fountain bottles had bubbles in them. A coworker used to say that those bubbles were there because of the bad vibes – I totally believed him! You should definitely prove it at your workplace.
– I had the opportunity to tour a Factory with a Senior VP once. While walking around, we noticed two things: people would not make eye contact with you and they would not smile. The place was spotless, but the tour went bad because of people’s demeanor. The reputation of the site was severely damaged- which takes years to turn around, especially when VP’s visit once every 5/10 years.
– Brand new office layout, new open spaces, lunch area. You see people sitting at their same seats every day. When there are conference calls or meetings, they take calls from their desks, even when they could meet their peers face to face.
You don’t see people sharing lunch time or a walk together. What’s missing? The right culture.
The excerpt talks about Leading by Walking Around. In today’s world, people hide in emails and calls to stay sitting down. Or, even worse, Leaders think they know what is going on because they have a few close team members that whisper to them what they want to hear. Usually those are the ones that have some extra perks and feel good about working there, so leaders never get the true picture of what is going on.
Here are my 3 best strategies to stay current on what the temperature is at work:
1) Be visible during coffee breaks, lunch and afternoon snack time. (And sometimes at the office workout room). Have random conversations with people.
2) Use Roundtables: in groups of 5/10 people, have a quiet conversation about what’s working, what’s not, and how good they feel about working there.
3) Observe how they interact. Quiet office? People just emailing each other? Whiteboards not being used? People smile? You will get a feel for what is going on.
Next time you are in the office, take a look around and take the temperature of the room!