Many years ago I had a manager working within the organisation who was having some difficulties in his relationship with the more junior staff as well as their perception of him as both an individual, a technical expert and a leader.  Much, but not all, of the difficulty had evolved from a relationship with another employee that was different from, but very similar to, the recent political episode that has so easily again taken our leaders away from their assigned job.

It finally came to a head when one morning in a brief meeting with the individual concerned  I was requested to ‘order’ the staff to respect him and his role.  My immediate reaction was to say “let’s get together later in the day when we both have some time and have a chat”.  This we duly did, and whilst the chat was quite lengthy, the abbreviated message went something along the lines of: “me ordering the staff to respect you will only heighten the situation, it will make you look all the more the fool and destroy any remaining respect that you may have.  Respect is something that is earned, you breached the Firms standards and culture, not catastrophically, but in a way that the remaining staff disrespected.  You must first acknowledge that that is correct, then make it aware that you do know and that you regret it.  From there time and effort (mainly on your part) will rebuild the relationships.”

It took a while but we got there in the end.

Never underestimate the impact that what and how you train your staff will not affect your culture, even if it is programmed and never accept what you train to be the culture without ensuring theory is fact.

Recently the ATO has published instructions that staff should ‘dob in a slacko’ who is not doing their just role.  Now I have been associated with this department for the whole of my working career and in that time I have known a significant number of very hard working department employees, so I am very confident that it is not aimed at everyone.

However, to have issued such an edict bluntly states that there is no real team environment in the organisation and that at least some are promoting the wrong message.  I can remember being involved in some conversations where the perception that “every taxpayer was a tax dodging criminal” could have been considered to have been an understatement!  There may well be many, but it’s definitely not all.

Once you create a culture that is that intense then people see it everywhere, even amongst themselves.  An individual’s own psyche will take over – I’m working harder than everyone else, it’s all me, I’m here the longest, etc.  The question in reality is? – is it true?

I once worked with someone who easily put in three to four hours a day more than the rest of us, however his productivity remained well below the others; a combination of not necessarily being the sharpest tool in the box and an unbelievable ability and desire to socialise.  Being there all the time or being there the longest doesn’t necessarily believe that you are actually doing anything worthwhile.

Building teams is exactly that and the biggest mistake you can make is having someone in the team that is not a team player, trust me, I’ve regrettably proven it myself at great cost.

Good teams self-correct, and are a wonderful thing to be a part of.