I’ve always hated the word ‘staff’.
It immediately infers an ‘us’ the employer/manager and ‘them’ the employed. It puts people in their place. it’s derogatory, it dates back to a time of command and control and it’s not conducive to developing a team of people who all feel a sense of ownership to the purpose of the business.
Let me share a couple of very recent examples of the difference between staff and team.
An example of staff: Last night I joined some of my friends at the local 10 pin bowling centre, as a friend was getting a round of drinks in at the bar a group of people came in through the main entrance; presumably wishing to have a game of 10 pin bowling. The bar-man grumbled almost furiously to my friend about it. After all, he’d just tidied the empty bowling lanes and now someone else has the audacity to come. Clearly this barman made no connection to people coming in and buying stuff = him getting paid! He is a member of staff, he has his duties, one is serving drinks, another is tidying the bowling alleys for the evening. He now has to put additional effort in before the end of the evening and he’s not happy about it and he has no problem letting other customers know how unhappy he is about it too.
An example of team: Earlier that same day – Friday, Tracy Clow an AVN Team member was in the process of organising an upcoming event that we’re running which included evening meals. As it’s a 2 day event we use the local pub for 1 of the days and the local hotel for another. The hotel is more expensive but it makes for a change in environment. On this occasion the pub couldn’t accommodate us meaning that the hotel would need to for both days. Tracy decided to nip across the road to the hotel and see the manager, she successfully negotiated him down on the price of the meals for us and the drinks then came back and shared her success with me. Tracy has no accountabilities around this, organising these events doesn’t fall within her typical remit, had she had the ‘staff’ mentality she would simply have booked the hotel for 2 nights. But she didn’t, Tracy treats the business like it’s her own and looks out the businesses best interests as do the rest of the team. She also ensured in her negotiations that although the price was discounted, the customer experience of our delegates would remain outstanding.
Moving from Staff to Team isn’t just about changing a word but it’s a really good starting point. I know that to many it seems very alien to suddenly start using the word team in place of staff but it doesn’t take long before it feels natural.
Making this change is a necessary step in the process. It begins to change the mindset. ‘Team’ means something very different to ‘staff’ and so in order to use the word in our language, our behaviour has to, and begins to reflect its definition.
It’s always been considered a swear word within AVN and although it seems odd to a new employee, it doesn’t take long before they understand the difference.
Make the ‘staff’ word a swear word in your business and kill the culture it represents. As this series progresses I’ll continue to share different concepts that help develop a true team culture.
If you need to catch up and start from the beginning of my series you can do that by going to my blog site at http://www.shanelukas.co.uk
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