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A manager seeking to increase productivity by improving the workplace environment, or simply trying to reduce the level of acrimony that may exist among workers, may elect to participate in a workshop with those employees, or exclude himself from the proceedings so as to not inadvertently impose an intimidating presence over his or her subordinates. Workshops for the purpose of improving communications and coordination among workers are a common management tool. Those oriented toward improving the workplace environment usually involve exercises that require teamwork in order for objectives to be met. As more fluent teamwork, with fewer disruptions related to interpersonal conduct, is the goal of the exercise, compelling the completion of non-work-related activities that require cooperation helps to instill among the workforce a stronger sense of comradery that, hopefully, translate to the workplace. As employees undertake to complete assigned tasks that are part of the workshop, they are, by design, dependent upon each other. Some companies send groups of employees, usually management-level employees, to nearby military installations, where they are subjected to exercises that similarly are designed to instill a greater level of teamwork. As military operations are highly dependent upon coordination and cooperation among members of a unit, the civilian workers are exposed to demonstrations of teamwork at a very high level, and, as in workshops, are assigned to complete tasks that demand an equally high level of cooperation.
Communications are often the key to facilitating greater coordination among members of a unit or team. Ideally, workshops are designed to illuminate deficiencies that exist so that corrective measures can be adopted. Absent clear lines of communication, failure in almost any endeavor will be the result. Ensuring that communications at both horizontal and vertical levels -- in other words, both among employees and between superiors and subordinates – function as needed may require “off-site” exercises such as those discussed above.
Workshops help, but aren’t always a viable option. Careful attention to managerial practices, then, become even more important. The workplace environment is established from the top-down; it is the managers who set the tone that affects the atmosphere in which the employees must function. Fair treatment among workers (e.g., no favoritism towards specific individuals; no biases against others), a zero-tolerance policy towards discriminatory behavior (e.g., sexual harassment, racism) and a merit-based system to determine promotions and raises/ bonuses are all essential components of a highly-functional workplace. When employees view management as fair and evenhanded, they are more likely to cooperate in adhering to corporate policies and in eschewing the kind of behavior that degrades workforce efficiency.
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