NOTE** This does NOT mean you should give up your sense of humor, sarcasm, etc… those are important coping skills and a part of who you are. It also doesn’t mean you should become the in-house Eddie Haskell; that’d just creep everyone out and could be hazardous to your health. Nor should you ignore those problem areas that need to be addressed (see “Solution-Focused Venting”).
Key findings from “The Orange Revolution” by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton
In their book “The Orange Revolution,” authors and experts in the field of employee engagement Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton examined what they deemed “revolutionary teams” within certain organizations – so named for their high performance and ability to generate breakthrough success among their own people, and to transform even the larger organizations of which they are a part – by using empirical research conducted by the Best Companies Group. The studies they relied examined 350,000 participants from 28 industries.
These revolutionary teams studied, and the people who comprise them, were remarkable for not only their effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity but also for the levels of employee satisfaction and engagement among the individuals who comprise them.
One of the key findings were that the teams and team members shared five universal characteristics, which were:
1) The teams all shared a belief in their own ability to write the future.
2) People in breakthrough teams report their highest loyalty is to one another – the other team members.
3) Breakthrough teams understand that important work relationships require effort, and all members agree to:
- Demonstrate personal competency
- Expand their competency with leadership traits of goal setting, communication, trust, accountability, and recognition.
4) Breakthrough teams clearly visualize and stay focused on the Big Picture, or their driving sense of mission.
5) Breakthrough teams follow what Gostick and Elton call “The Rule of 3”
- “Wow” – Breakthrough teams commit to a standard of world class excellence
- “No Surprises” – All team members are accountable for open and honest debate, and each knows what to expect from others.
- “Cheer” – Team members support, recognize, appreciate, and cheer others and the group on to victory.
There’s not a lot of room for negativity, pessimism, jealousy, and backbiting in there; in fact, optimism, focus, loyalty, and mission are crucial to success. And, for our purposes, especially consider the final component of the “Rule of 3.” Breakthrough team members cheer and encourage each other. They give compliments, celebrate success, hold others up for recognition, and take pride in the success of their fellow team members. How often do you see that where you work? How different would the place be if it was the norm?
Is your organization or, if you belong to a large agency, team or smaller group with which you work, one that embraces a culture of support (beyond that of providing physical safety and back-up), recognition, appreciation, and cheering each other’s accomplishments? Or is it one with an undercurrent of personal and professional jealousies, looking out for “Number 1,” and minor political intrigues? Unfortunately, too many law enforcement agencies are the latter.
Focusing on recognizing your colleagues need not become an all-day, every day hug-fest; in fact, that would probably become annoying and counterproductive. But making an effort to look for those things that your colleagues do particularly well, and then taking time to make sure they are recognized, would likely go far toward changing cultures of negativity that permeate many departments. It also works wonders tempering unhealthy cynicism and unproductive venting. It’s hard to stay critical when one decides to seek out that which should be celebrated. Try it for yourself.
About The Authors:
Althea Olson, LCSW has been in private practice in the Chicago suburbs since 1996. She has a Master of Social Work degree from Aurora University providing individual, couple, & group therapy to adolescents, adults, and geriatrics. Althea is also trained in Critical Incident Stress Management & is a certified divorce mediator.