What does it mean to work as a team?  How does one foster a sense of “team” when the physical location of members is dispersed throughout the country?  What are the tools that team members can rely upon to strengthen their cohesiveness, in spite of their distance?

 

 

In the modern workplace, it’s common for employees to work remotely, either from satellite offices or even from their own homes.  Consequently, leaders can promote culture and productivity by following three basic principles:

 

  • Meet together in person. Despite the virtual nature of your teams, it’s important to, at least initially, place names with faces.  It establishes a baseline level of trust among team members, as well as everyone being able to get on the same page about the shared mission and/or direction of the work going forward.
  • Create a communication schedule and stick to it. When working remotely, it’s easy to get caught up in your own task list, but consistent communication enables team members to discuss what they’re working on, in the event that others might be able to leverage or contribute their own work streams into others. As Mustang The Story Author Bill Higgs writes, “Mechanical, structural, electrical engineers and designers all sat together to foster a sense of team and insure there were no communication gaps across interface lines. We knew that we could not take risks other companies did, because there was no buffer of cash if we failed. We had to get different types of contracts, work in different, more efficient ways and win work in a super competitive environment.Our intense work ethic and attention to detail permeated the entire organization to the point where people felt responsible to get the whole project out in good order…not just their part.”
  • Utilize technology. Technology can be a powerful tool to promote connectivity and cohesiveness among team members. Harvard Business Review Contributor Keith Ferrazzi recommends using platforms that integrate all types of communication to include direct calls and text messaging, discussion forums or virtual team rooms, and conference calling. The tools that currently exist to help streamline work and engage the whole team is limitless so do your homework to discover what will work best for your needs.

Mustang always prioritized culture as they worked to deliver for the client.  Higgs even recalls using short mantras and icons for different stages of a project to help people pull together.  “For the Clair project in the North Sea we needed to reduce cost by 40% to make the project go. During concept work with teams in the UK and the Americas, our mantra was “Clair will be Different” to get folks aligned. Once approved, the saying became “Clair…Deliver the Difference!!” We put it on everything from email to signs in video-conferencing to trinkets on desks…and we delivered world-class performance.”

With the trend in companies continuing to employ virtual teams, it’s no wonder there are so many options for engaging team members.  What strategies will you rely upon to foster a winning culture among your team?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SaveSave

What does it mean to truly work collaboratively?  How can a company best leverage their workforce?  What’s the best strategy for busting the designated groups, or silos, of a company for optimal outcomes?

Mustang answered these questions by recognizing early on that all problems are communication problems.  And the only way to face those issues, internally, before they escalated, was to bust their work silos wide open.  Essentially, foster the free space for all employees to think, share, and articulate ideas across titles and work streams.  Thereby, business development works concurrently with sales who works together with manufacturing, and so on.

Mustang Co-Founder Bill Higgs acknowledged, “Each group within a company was responsible for delivering a bottom line and developed its own structure to do that. Each one of these silos could handily report out at the top to the organization, which could then roll everything together for projections and results. The reporting and organizational lines were very clear as well as career paths and job descriptions. Everything was set up well to be ‘managed to metrics’ that had been proven to deliver a healthy bottom line.”

Ultimately, establishing open lines of communication among employees make it easier to recognize potential hiccups, talk through strategies, and be more tolerant of the decisions being made.

Fast Company Contributor Asha Sharma agrees, “A company should make sure their employees feel comfortable asking questions so they consistently have what they need to perform at their highest levels. They should never be without crucial information because they don’t know where to go, who to ask, or are worried their inquiries will be shut down and not taken seriously. Questions spur creativity and get people talking about how to tackle problems in new and different ways. Cultures that are built around defensive territorial behaviors are not built to last. Cultures that promote and embrace intellectual curiosity across the business are sure to grow and thrive.”

Communication is the key to success in any relationship, and certainly in business.  What silos will you bust to make your business boom?

For more tips to optimize workplace dynamics, schedule Bill Higgs to speak at your next event. Contact Haven Creative – 704.256.4008 or email us – jeni @ thehavencreative.com.

When Mustang Engineering first began, they worked hard to cultivate a culture full of Mustangers — passionate, hard-working, enthusiastic go-getters who aim to achieve greatness on a daily basis.  But, you don’t have to be employed by Mustang Engineering to be a Mustanger, at heart.

At its core, a Mustanger is someone with a “Just Do It” mentality that can come from any company, any line of work. A Mustanger’s energy and enthusiasm is a force multiplier that helps spiral coworker’s attitudes up to create a more positive work environment.

Forbes Contributor Ken Sundheim reiterates, “Hire employees who take action and take chances.  While chances may lead to failure, they will more often lead to success and mold confidence while generating new ideas.  Stagnant employees won’t make your company money; action-oriented employees will.”

Like the spark plug of a project, a Mustanger’s involvement ignites the passion of others, and yields success in both the project’s outcome and all those who contributed. They take vested interest in the achievement of their team members, because they know a strong team is mutually exclusive to strong leadership–hence the expression, “lead from within.”

It’s no easy feat to continually build up the team that surrounds you, which is why Mustangers make it a point to seek out good mentorship. They identify their own areas of weakness and strive for the knowledge and/or experience to turn them into strengths.

And at the end of the day, Mustangers recognize that work is meaningless without play, and therein lies the work hard/play hard concept!  You can’t truly appreciate all you’ve achieved without the wisdom to step back and celebrate the accomplishments.

Learn how to become a Mustanger…purchase a copy of Mustang the Story today!

SaveSave

It’s inevitable in any company that the torch must eventually be passed to the next generation so the legacy of their predecessors can continue. It’s for this reason that it’s critical for management to prioritize the hiring and mentorship of “Young Guns” – the term Mustang used to refer to the new recruits in their mentorship program.

So how does a company foster that next generation?  Consider the following:

Empower Innovation – Be open to the ideas of those around you, no matter how far down on the totem pole or how different the person may be coming up with them.  Often times, those pitches are incredibly innov

ative because they don’t have the luxury of resources and broad networks at their disposal. Let your younger generation find those out-of-the-box solutions to your problems because they aren’t stuck in old ways of thinking.

 

Encourage ExpressionAs innovation requires resourcefulness, receptiveness is the way in which company leadership responds to those ideas. Encourage your “Young Guns” to speak what’s on their mind by establishing an accepting and collaborative environment.  It’s not so much that all those ideas will be implemented, but more so that Young Guns feel heard and valued simply for speaking up.

 

 Leverage Strengths – “Young Guns” are technologically savvy and are intrinsically comfortable with a multitude of platforms.  Consequently, they’re easily motivated to learn “the next big thing”, or really whatever program would streamline their work.  And therein lies another strength – because they so strongly believe in the value of work/life balance, efficiency is king, and efficiency equates to productivity!

Entrepreneur Contributor Marty Fukuda states, “No organization can have too many qualified leaders, and you can never know when you’ll need to replace, add or promote someone. The organizations that are intentional about the development of their next generation leaders will be prepared for anything.”

To learn more ways to foster leaders in your own company, schedule Bill Higgs to speak at your next event. Contact Haven Creative – 704.256.4008 or email us – jeni @ thehavencreative.com.

It’s not about sitting in a circle, singing kumbaya (though who are we to object, if that’s your thing).  Having a team mentality in the workforce is so much more than just a feel-good sentiment.  When you actually take the time and care to live it, the rewards are endless.  Here are the top five benefits of how a team mentality benefits your company:

  • Productivity – Two is better than one, and when those two, or more as the case may be, are working collaboratively together, they can get more done in less time. And therein lies the goal of all companies!  “As problems arise in one area, the entire team can deal with them and the work can proceed much faste

    Tee time…the ultimate morale booster!

    r,” says Houston Chron Contributor Lisa Magloff.

  • Morale – Working with one another fosters camaraderie and community, which is something we all strive to achieve in both home and work. “Working on a team gives employees a greater sense of belonging and of recognition, which helps them take more pride in their work, and their company,” adds Magloff.
  • Flexibility – When you’re flexible, you’re able to bust silos to work across traditional lines of employment. Imagine if your sales department worked concurrently with your business development department, how much more effective would you be in executing your growth strategy?  In Mustang’s early days, they had no titles on business cards and everyone was accessible to one another without fanfare.  Flexibility is getting over, or bypassing altogether, the barriers that promote feelings of isolation or inadequacy.
  • Communication – Having frequent and seamless communication among team members enables the utilization of collective resources that might otherwise not be recognized. It’s understanding different points of view to bring insight into a project that might otherwise not be sourced.
  • Risk Taking – The greater the risk, the greater the reward, and there’s nothing like the expertise of an entire team weighing in to support the conclusion that a risk is indeed prudent.

A strong team mentality entails a workforce that has autonomy and consequently, accountability for their work.  Their reliance on one another to come to an outcome that is worthy of praise is equally motivating and satisfying, so it’s no wonder more and more companies are getting on this bandwagon.  Are you?

 

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Finding a good mentor in business is often critical to your success.  Mentors can come in many forms from superiors to competitors, similar leveled colleagues, and even family or friends.  The benefits of mentorship are tenfold, but we’ve come up with the top 7 takeaways that a good mentor can provide:

  1. Connections/Networking – Finding someone who can connect you with the right people, or at least identify who the right people are, either internally or externally, is invaluable as you climb the company ladder.
  2. Navigation – Becoming upwardly mobile in a company takes more than skill. It’s understanding the politics in play, and figuring how best to stay in the thick of it or above the fray, as the case may require.
  3. Goal Setting – As an entrepreneur, the list of goals to accomplish is daunting. Finding a mentor who can help you compartmentalize the tasks that need to get done today, with the vision that will take you to tomorrow, is unparalleled.
  4. Subject Matter Resource (SMRs) – Learn from the best! Let those that are experts in your field guide you, and be a sponge to their anecdotes and skills.
  5. Experience – Sharing experience with novices can lead to their greater understanding of context, and consequently, a more efficient and desirable outcome. And as Bill Higgs says, “The ability to identify and mitigate risk only comes from experience.”  Moreover, per The Balance Contributor Dawn Rosenberg McKay, “You’ll probably make a lot of mistakes and miss out on many opportunities, but you can limit how often this happens by finding a mentor.”
  6. Sounding Board – Find someone who is interested in what you do, and how you do it. Whether they have all the solutions for you is irrelevant, but their willingness to lend an ear when you otherwise wouldn’t have one is not only vital, but ever-appreciated.
  7. Honesty – As important as it is to find someone who will listen to you, it’s equally important to find someone who will give you honest feedback – be it an ill-fated approach to a project or perhaps your peers’ perception of you. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to surround yourself with “Yes Dears” (people who tell you you’re doing great at every turn because they’re livelihood is directly linked to yours). But finding the constructive criticism from an impartial player is how your grow.

Ideally, a mentor for one can just as easily be a protege of another, because so long as we’re working, we’re learning and we all have something to teach.

Looking to cultivate a winning culture in your organization? Request Bill Higgs, Entrepreneur, Author and Keynote speaker to visit with your group. Email mustangthestory@gmail.com.

SaveSave

SaveSave

At Mustang, “family” was a word Mustangers used frequently.  Not because it was feel-good lip service for their employees, but because they genuinely both felt it and paid homage to it.  They devoted countless hours to fostering a supportive environment among their people, and recognized, virtually at inception, that honoring their employees’ families was just as important as the employees themselves. 

When projects are demanding and tight schedules become the driver, long hours, overtime and weekend work typically become the norm. Long hours at the office tax often put a strain on relationships at home. Because of this, attention needs to be focused on building a family of families. Camaraderie is built by including everyone so that the effort can be understood and appreciated. That means recognition given to everyone connected to the project, whether they are at home, at school, or on the job itself. Frequent offsite team-building, with group and family functions that focus on fun and spirit, can assist in keeping an organization healthy.

@BusinessNewsDaily Paula Fernandez agrees, saying, “More and more workers now look for employers who understand that an individual’s personal and the professional life cannot always be distinctly compartmentalized. Genuinely family-friendly workplaces build a sense of community among co-workers by creating opportunities for employees’ families to come together in and outside of the office. These fun family events vary, based on the size of the business and the interests of the employees, but they all have the end goal of helping employees feel that they, along with their families, are seen, heard and appreciated by their employers.”

For Mustang, placing value on one’s personal family elevated their contributions to their professional family.  Consequently, it served the company well to take good care of their people…and their people’s people.

For more advice on cultivating a winning culture in your company, purchase a copy of Mustang The Story – HERE. Or on Amazon, HERE.

SaveSave

SaveSave

A new business is saddled with the overwhelming need to keep costs under control.  It’s working countless and often uncompensated hours to minimize overhead labor costs and maximize returns.  In early days of Mustang Engineering, they recognized the need for a winning sales strategy without the employing of actual salesmen to increase expenses. Thus, their concept of “Same Sentence Sales” was born.

Forbes Contributor Gay Gaddies writes of lessons learned in sales strategy, “[It’s] better for your customers to discover how great you are than for you to tell them. Leave bread crumbs for your clients to find you because it is much more valuable for someone to discover you than for you to pound your fists declaring your greatness.”

As bread crumbs, Mustang used their existing relationships with key vendor salesmen or owners that were currently in the fields working with desired clients.  They leveraged the trust they had already built, such that when the client came asking their opinions on who best to parcel out sub-tasks or new projects, those salesmen could answer “Mustang”, among a short list of well-respected competitors.  The ability to have Mustang used in a conversational vs. sales sentence made all the difference.

Mustang Co-Founder Bill Higgs recalls, “The vendors knew we would take good care of the client and they had no problem working Mustang’s name into conversations.”

In turn, that led to winning more bids and, thus the easier their same sentence sales strategy became.

For more sales strategy tips, purchase a copy of Mustang the Story on Amazon – HERE

Picture a bidding presentation where the only thing standing between a crowded room of skeptical engineers and their lunch is YOU – and your sales pitch!  That’s not exactly an ideal position, but it was where Mustang Co-Founder Bill Higgs found himself in the early days of Mustang.  Higgs took a creative approach on what could have been a room full of “hangry” people and spun it into a message about Mustang Engineering being other-oriented.

In Mustang The Story, Bill describes, “Starting with the first board member, I put a large Snickers® bar in front of each of them. I told them that I wanted them to focus on this presentation… not lunch!! I had worked my way down to putting a large Snickers® in front of the last board member, when I said ‘Oh and here is a small one for your baby’. That comment got everyone on both sides of the room laughing, because she was pregnant but not yet showing. It was very obvious through sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and feeling of empathy, that Mustang was really going to be focused on Metro [the client] and their needs…That is why we served Snickers® bars at all functions. We want to continually remind people to be other-oriented in our ongoing effort to build trust. Being other-oriented in all of our actions is a very positive differentiator that many find hard to believe at first.”

What can you do to create a winning deal and a lasting impression?  For Mustang, it was all about building trust with the client.  Satisfy their hunger for a strong collaboration, a useful contract, or perhaps just a tasty snack, and make a deal worth skipping lunch!

SaveSave

SaveSave