Tip #1. Sharing information with your team is great, but occasionally you need to "protect" them from the details in order to keep them focused on achieving a goal
Unbeknownst to our heroine, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and her mockingjay pin had become important symbols for the growing rebellion against the Capitol and several of her rivals were actually working with the rebel forces to keep her alive in the latest Hunger Games competition (known as the Quarter Quell). Some were even willing to sacrifice themselves in order to keep her safe.
The leaders of the rebellion decided to keep Katniss in the dark about this plot until the very end of the film in order to keep her focused during the competition. Similarly, it is occasionally necessary to keep details that may cause a distraction away from your team members (or at least delay the release of that information). Absolute transparency about issues like a financial difficulty, a legal challenge, or an upcoming termination can be a paralyzing distraction for some employees and may cause others to bolt. This could actually transform the risk of a potential failure into a reality.
Of course, anyone who believes that their employees will not notice an increased level of anxiety from the executive suite is fooling themselves. If workers are distracted by a perceived "secret," it may be prudent to share some of the details with them. Scary news should be shared carefully and presented in a way that is motivating, not demotivating.
Tip #2. Build a team with a variety of skill sets and experience levels, but with common values
The group of tributes that ultimately prevailed in the second Hunger Games film were not carbon copies of the teenaged Katniss and Peeta from District 12. In fact, some were not young at all. In addition to the physically strong Finnick and Joanna, the team included the elderly Mags (a mentor to the athletic Finnick), the technologically savvy Beetie, the intuitive (if "nutty") Wiress, and most definitely Haymitch Abernathy (played by Woody Harrelson) who helped engineer things behind the scenes.
Each of the team members brought skill sets that complemented (rather than mirrored) each other. And most importantly, they shared the common values of loyalty, innovation, creativity, and perseverance.
As any good hiring manager knows, it is critical to build a team that is dedicated to working towards the greater good and achieving your corporate objectives, rather than solely being focused on their own victories and achievements.
Tip #3. Don't let your personal biases and first impressions preclude you from learning from someone you may not enjoy working with
One thing that Suzanne Collins does well is include a number of essentially unlikable characters in her books. Katniss Everdeen is not exactly the "rah rah" type and isn't afraid to appear prickly to others. Most of all, the character of Haymitch is crude, cynical and often drunk. But the wisdom he has gained from his experience as a past Hunger Games victor and more importantly, the relationships he has developed within the Capitol, make him an invaluable ally.
Encouraging team members to see past the differences and be open to learning from all of their team mates is one of the best ways to grow your business. Help them understand that a healthy dose of skepticism and conflicting approaches can make your team better, not worse.
Tip #4. Pushing employees to work against their strengths is likely to lead to disappointing results
In "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," President Snow requires Katniss and Peeta, the victors of the previous Hunger Games, to travel to each of the 12 Districts on a "Victory Tour." Threatening her safety and that of her loved ones, President Snow forces Katniss to put on a show that will help quell the growing discontent within the country. Of course, this only feeds the fire of rebellion and despite Katniss and Peeta's best efforts to comply with Snow's wishes, it does not work and only leads to more discontentment.
The old adage "making sure you have the right people on the bus" must be appended with "...and that everyone is sitting in the right seat." Ensure that you know the strengths of each team member if you truly want great results and don't hesitate to reassign a good employee into a different role within your organization where their strengths could be better utilized. We recommend utilizing the Gallup organization's Strengthsfinder test as a standard practice.
Tip #5. Breaking your word or making "bad faith" agreements will not lead to success
Historically, victors of the Hunger Games were free from ever having to participate in another competition (although they were expected to work as mentors). In order to eliminate the growing threat posed by Katniss, President Snow announced that the 75th edition of the Hunger Games would be a kind of "all star" edition where the participants were drawn exclusively from previous winners, knowing Katniss would be selected.
This also impacted the lives of all the other previous victors, some of which were elderly or not physically prepared for such a challenge. Ultimately, nearly half of the tributes forced to participate again were involved in a plot to keep Katniss alive and defy the power of the Capitol.
Nothing can demotivate even the best employee than management's decision not to live up to a promise made, particularly if that promise involved compensation such as a bonus, an increase in salary, a new position, or additional vacation days. The feeling of betrayal from an employee in this situation (whether or not their grievance is legitimate or only perceived), can lead to performance issues and ultimately the departure of that employee. In the unfortunate event that the company is no longer in the position to be able to live up to a promise made, it is best to address the issue directly with the impacted employee.
Tip #6. Encourage frank and honest conversations between all workers and senior management
During an early scene in the film "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," President Snow (portrayed by Canadian Donald Sutherland) pays an unscheduled visit to the home of Katniss Everdeen. During their ominous conversation he vehemently insists that they "not lie to each other." The ongoing relationship (more of a hate-hate one, not a love-hate thing) is one of the more interesting elements of the series.
But is it realistic to expect candid conversations between employees and those who can be responsible for them losing their jobs? Does disagreement with a corporate decision always mean insubordination? Wise business owners nurture a culture where honest feedback and constructive criticism is welcome to be shared by everyone in the organization. What medium that takes place in can vary - from one-on-one conversations with management, to a suggestions box, to a company "town hall" meeting. However...
Tip #7. Quash insubordination and employee defiance as quickly as possible [this tip is from the point of view of the villainous President Snow]
It is important to allow team members to express contrary opinions to those of management, but when they become less about constructive comments and more about snide remarks it is necessary for management to take action. There's another old adage that states "what you allow, you encourage." Allowing negativity and possibly even defiant actions to undermine a decision within the organization will allow these feelings to fester and create an unproductive workforce. Other employees may replicate these actions and even those who disagree may lose respect for leaders who allow others to behave in such a manner.
Facing a challenging HR situation? Want some advice from seasoned HR professionals? The experienced team at Clear Path Employer Services can help. Contact Anna at (519) 624-0800 for assistance.
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