Want To Get Past Probation At Work?


Hooray! You’ve landed yourself a new job! If you were unemployed, all that stress of looking for work is behind you now. If you left one job for this one, you’ve got a lot to look forward to, presumably this opportunity has more for you than where you worked last. Congratulations either way!

Your goal has actually shifted in any event, from finding a job to maintaining this job. So how long is your probationary period? 3 months is a good guess, but it might be longer. Oh, and if it’s a contract job, you’ll be hoping perhaps to perform so well they’ll keep you on. The same is true for many of you out there who land yourself a seasonal job for the holiday season approaching. Unless of course you’re the new Mall Santa; your job has a definite end date just before Christmas day!

Here then are some things to do to maintain that new job. Again, congratulations!

  1. Show up when you’re scheduled. It sounds completely obvious I know, but I’m continually surprised by the number of people who upon taking a job, think it is well within their rights to show up late or not at all. When your name is on the schedule, you’re being counted on to be at work. You might have good reasons to be absent or running late, but just the same, your new employer has a business to run and needs employees there to do the work.
  2. Get your childcare in place now. This isn’t exclusive to single parents. Get childcare arranged now – before you start a job – and work on getting a back up on call if your primary source of childcare isn’t available. In other words, a private sitter won’t watch your child if they are ill, or on vacation, have an accident; maybe even if they have medical appointments of their own one day – and they will. Don’t plan on figuring this out after you accept a job; you’ll be too busy.
  3. Dress the part. You want to last don’t you? Okay then, fit in. Now I know that individualism counts, that it’s your right to express yourself as you see fit, and yes, if people don’t accept you for who you are then that’s their problem. Sure, this all sounds noble and under many circumstances I’d agree entirely. It’s also just a tad self-serving too. If the job calls for safety equipment to be worn, wear it as it’s designed, not how you think looks most fashionable. If you interact with the public, keep in mind it’s not just your right to express yourself that’s on display, so is the reputation of the employer who hired you. Keeping up that desired image is expected of you.
  4. Be positive. Be friendly and accentuate the positive. People generally like being around people who are optimistic, personable and yes the odd smile goes a long way. Try a little experiment today – smile and see how many people smile automatically back at you. It’s a reflex motion!
  5. Stay until your shift is over. Cutting out early gets noticed. If you expect to get paid right up until your shift ends, you are expected to work until your shift ends. When you’re off at 5 p.m., that doesn’t mean you start putting on your coat and heading out the door 10 minutes early so you get to your car at 5 p.m.
  6. Pitch In. When appropriate, lend a hand to others. By appropriate, I mean make sure your own job gets completed and helping others doesn’t distract you from doing what’s expected of you. Where possible, a simple, “Hey can I help?” might win you some goodwill, get you noticed and signal to others that you’re a team player.
  7. Be careful who you listen to. At the start of your job, you haven’t any idea who the gossips are, the idle workers, the ones Management has targeted as in line to be let go. Be wary of comments, advice or conversations that just feel wrong, paint the employer in a bad light, or taint anyone badly.
  8. Focus on the work. Make sure the job you were hired to do is actually your focus. While you want to get along, you’re under the microscope more than the other long-standing employees. You’re being evaluated and if you can’t hit targets, seem to be standing around more than working etc., they’ll cut you loose and hire someone else.
  9. Ask for feedback. If you’ve got a 3 month probation period, ask how you’re doing long before you get surprised with being released. It’s too late to say, “What? Why?” You should have been told any concerns so you could improve in any areas they identified as needing attention, but it’s still your responsibility to find out how you’re performing. Ask your Supervisor this one, not a co-worker.
  10. Show some enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is my mantra; it’s the number one quality employer’s want in their employees. It’s no longer enough just to, ‘do the job for a pay cheque’. Employers look for workers with some passion, some investment in what they are doing; people who understand WHY they do what they do and HOW what they do contributes to the overall success of the organization.

I’m happy for you! Yeah! Follow the above and I you’ll hopefully keep your job long past your probationary period. Getting hired and staying employed are two different skills; don’t start coasting now.

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The Hand-Written Thank You Note


How many of you have recently wrote a hand-written thank you note? Hands up out there. Hmm… not many; no not many indeed.

Okay, another question if I may. The last time you received a note of thanks from someone expressing their gratitude, how did it make you feel?

Interesting isn’t it? You enjoy receiving but aren’t doing the giving. Now of course many of you out there might just be the kind of people who are very thankful and gracious with your words of thanks, it’s just that your saying them face-to-face or in an email. After all email is so convenient, accessible and immediate. You can dash off an email expresses thanks in the same time it would take to put on your coat and find your car keys. That trip to the stationery store to buy a card just seems so unnecessary.

I admit the card of thanks takes more effort. Yes, you have to go to the store, pick out a card or a set of cards that expresses thanks but doesn’t communicate the wrong message with some flowery verse on the inside. Then there’s paying for the cards, (because email is free), and if you misspell a word as you write in pen, there’s no delete button to quickly erase your error. Then there’s the exorbitant cost of a postage stamp, addressing the envelope, the trip to a mailbox. Just too much effort!

Or is it?

Think for a moment what someone has done for you in the first place for which you might be contemplating issuing words of thanks. I suspect what they’ve done, or what they continue to do is worth a bit more than the total cost of an envelope, card, postage stamp and your time. In fact, I’d wager your effort and words of thanks pale mightily in comparison. Too much effort on your part? How unfortunate if you feel this way.

The thank you card could be composed and presented to any number of people and for many reasons. Here’s a few to inspire some action on your part:

  • An interviewer after a job interview
  • A co-worker who has your back when work piles up
  • Your Administrative Clerk; the one who ‘does everything’ for you
  • Your job search references; those who back your credentials
  • The Barista who makes your every morning must-have
  • The Teacher who instructs your child
  • The Child Care Provider who nurtures your child
  • Your neighbour who looks out for you in your absence
  • The Receptionist who greeted you on interview day

That’s a lot of people you COULD be thanking. Better get a stack of cards when you’re out and save yourself a lot of return trips. If you look over that list by the way, you’ll note I hope that not a single note of thanks requires postage at all. Nope, each one can be hand-delivered.

The thing about a note of thanks is that it is short and yet powerful; so powerful in fact that many people will hang on to notes of thanks long after they’ve been received. An email of thanks by comparison may be read and deleted in the same day, or immediately after the person replies with a ‘Thanks’.  Then they switch gears and get on with their day.

I give my job seekers with 5 cards of thanks – blank on the inside – and 5 envelopes. I recommend they make use of them and there’s more available if they need them. Sadly, many don’t even issue one. Those that do however, find them surprisingly effective. Oddly enough, they feel better too when the person expresses thanks and a little shock at having received one.

Take your references as an example of people to thank. These are the people you provide to a potential employer as those who will attest to your work ethic, accomplishments, personality, teamwork, etc. After you’ve done your best to wow an employer, they are the ones who will either close the deal or raise some doubt on your application. Suddenly I think your protest that a card of thanks being too much work is failing miserably.

“Just  a few words of appreciation for standing with me as a valued reference. As I transition to a new place, I’m grateful to have your support.”

Now honestly, how long do you think that would take for you to write? Time surely then, can’t be your argument for not writing one, and we’ve already talked about the cost.

So if time and money aren’t the real reasons, we’re left with you don’t know what to say – see example above – or you just can’t be bothered – which means you truly aren’t that grateful. You could have literacy issues I suppose, which I grant.

Need another example? Okay…

Thank you for meeting with me this afternoon. I found our interview informative and enlightening. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work together and look forward to this with enthusiasm. I am excited about the next step in the hiring process.

Short and to the point. Come on people, you can do this. You’re looking for an edge over your competition aren’t you? Don’t be the candidate who just goes home and waits for the phone to ring. You can pen this one sitting in reception and hand it in right after the interview to the Receptionist.

Or not.

Presenting To Colleagues On Training Day


Yesterday found me presenting with 4 fellow employees at day 1 of our organization’s annual 2 day professional development training. We’re back there again later today delivering the last of our two workshops to the staff who remained behind to deliver services to the public.

Let me say up front it was a huge success. I love it when the topic selected, the planning and the delivery all come together to make the opportunity for learning the best it can be. The only thing that one can’t control is the mood and attitude of those attending; even though you can influence them one way or the other with your delivery and content based on how relevant and useful they view the material covered.

Now I like facilitating; I mean I truly enjoy it and love investing myself in the delivery because I know how important it is to stimulate and entertain the audience so the presentation has some life. Ever been to a presentation where the material was fantastic and relevant but the speaker(s) were so dry and lifeless that you had a hard time concentrating? I know I have! So injecting humour, varying the pitch of my voice, addressing everyone with my eyes throughout our time together is something that comes natural to me. In short, I’m comfortable up there, and that level of comfort translates into the audience feeling that they are in good hands.

But not everybody enjoys standing up in front of an audience. The idea of getting up in front of a room of people who are looking to you for leadership, delivery of content with enthusiasm and expertise is absolutely scary for some and for others downright terrifying!

So I have to tell you then how proud I am of my co-facilitating team. We are part of a large municipal organization with 5 offices spread across a large geographic area just east of Toronto. In addition to myself, I had the pleasure of working with 4 others including 3 Social Services Caseworkers and the 4th is a woman who recently moved from her role as a Caseworker to an Employment Development Worker. None of the three facilitate as part of their job.

This is significant to tell you see, because in addition to getting together to talk about what we’d present and how, it meant we’d also need time to talk about presenting period. You know, getting over any performance anxiety, the butterflies and pressure your mind imagines. Standing up in the front of a room of strangers is one thing; standing up in front of your peers, many of whom have significant experience beyond your own can be daunting. After all, you’ll go back to working with these same people long after the two days are over, so you can feel tremendous pressure to excel so you don’t look foolish or just melt away up there in front of them!

Like I said earlier though, it was a huge success. We had a diversified audience too, made up of Supervisors, Administrative Clerks, Caseworkers, Employment Development Workers and Employment Counsellors; a true mixed audience. Some of the people in these roles don’t interact with our end-users in-person. Knowing this, we anticipated the need to make our material relevant not only to the professional life of each attendee, but also in their personal lives. The material could be transferred to their own development, identifying and moving past barriers standing between them and their goals. We also talked briefly about the what some see as the dreaded resume; best practices, getting past Applicant Tracking Software that employers use to weed out the bad from the good. All completely appropriate for the work we do on a daily basis, but also good for each participant individually; perhaps their kids, family or friends too.

It was this design borne out of the discussions we had at the outset, knowing our audience and the perspective they’d be coming from when in attendance that gave us the best chance of success. It was the actual delivery on the day which sealed the deal. Having been to many presentations, I know that the first 5 minutes generally tells me whether I’m in for a good time or not.

My colleagues Meaghan, Laurie, Amy and Julie truly pushed themselves outside their traditional comfort zones. They took the courage to volunteer and speak to a piece of the presentation, standing up before their peers and delivering. What a great bunch to work with. I’m so very proud of them all.

As for our attendees? It was extremely satisfying in both our presentations yesterday to have a few people voice their happiness with the material. One person actually texted her son on the other side of the country who is out of work at the moment with the information on resumes she picked up, and he got back to her and said, “Wow! I didn’t know that about resumes. Thanks mom!” So not only was it immediately relevant to the Caseworker, it helped her as a mother – and we all know our adult kids don’t always think we know much!

In one of the presentations, a Supervisor remarked she was going to make sure this material was covered as core training material for all new staff. So kind of her to share her feelings! It meant so much for us to know our material was relevant and appreciated.

To my presentation team, well done!

Are You Trustworthy?


You know yourself better than anyone else of course. So I ask you my reader, are you trustworthy? Would your co-workers and supervisor back up your belief that you are? So how would you prove it?

Being trustworthy is a very good quality to have. An employer can show their trust in you by giving you the keys to the store and asking you to open it up in the morning and/or close it up at night. Or perhaps you’re trusted to make the night deposits of cash and balance the till without dipping your hand in and helping yourself.

In a broader context, no matter your role in an organization, you’re undoubtedly trusted to represent the employer well when you’re on your personal time. With so much competition in the marketplace for customers money and ongoing loyalty, employer’s have to be more careful than ever that their reputations stay positive. The last thing they can tolerate is poor behaviour on the part of their employees in public that would soil that reputation and have their customers take their business elsewhere.

The job interview I suppose is really a conversation where the employer sizes up how well they can trust you to perform on the job the way you say you will. They do their very best to ask questions and check on past behaviour to assure themselves that if they place their trust in you by offering you a job, you’ll reward that same trust by performing as expected.

So is saying you can be trusted enough? Absolutely not. Both those who are indeed trustworthy and those who aren’t will make the same claims. “Don’t worry, you can trust me.” You can read that sentence with cynicism or complete faith in the claim. The thing is, trust is something you are given or something to be earned, where over time, you’re given increased responsibilities based on the employer’s trust in your ability to perform. Reward their trust with small things and you’ll find greater trust is placed in you.

Trust can be shown in many ways; you’re trusted to be genuinely sick if you phone in claiming to be ill. When the employer expects you to work independently, you’re trusted to actually put in the work you’re being paid to do. And should you join an existing team, you’ll most likely be trusted to pull your weight, contribute to the team’s performance, and not sabotage projects and put deadlines at risk.

Now the thing about losing the trust of others is that it can take a long time to regain the initial trust they placed in you. If you are often calling in sick you might lose the confidence of your co-workers who come to view you as untrustworthy. If you’ve got a police record, you may find it extremely difficult to convince an employer to place their trust in you – even when that offence is 10, 15 or more years in the past. They worry that hiring you with that record could hurt them tremendously should you abuse their trust and re-offend. Just ask an out-of-work person with a criminal record how it feels not to be trusted in the present for something they’ve done decades ago.

Now on a daily basis, you can demonstrate trust in the small things you undertake. Make a promise to call someone back by the end of the day and they will hold you to your word. If you phone, they appreciate it greatly. Fail to phone however, and their trust in your word drops and the next time you make such a promise they have less faith that you actually will. If you agree to relieve someone for their break coverage, they’ll trust you to appear at the appointed time, and telling them why you were held up may or may not suffice to support their trust in you.

Now on your résumé, you might want to start a bullet or two with the words, “Trusted to …”, or “Entrusted with …”. The implication here is that in earlier jobs you were trusted to do things by employer’s so the employer you’re hoping to work for now can trust you too. While this is good, you’d better be ready in the job interview itself to have examples ready to share of HOW they trusted you that prove your trustworthiness. Claims alone won’t cut it. Nobody is going to say they can’t be trusted, so the opposite is true; even those that can’t be trusted will claim to be. Your examples will if done properly, convince interviewers of trust previously placed in you and your performance in rewarding that trust.

Now suppose you’ve lost the trust of others you work with. What can be done to regain it? You might consider the honest but gutsy approach. Admit you’ve been less that trustworthy and you want to work hard to re-earn their faith in you. While words are good – and they are – you’ll be best served by then behaving in the way they’d expect. If you’re covering their phones when they are away training, let them return to find the calls answered and actioned. If you’re attendance has been sketchy and your teamwork less than stellar, pull your weight.

Be reliable, doing what you say you will, being counted on and coming through; in short, being trustworthy. It’s pretty cool. I trust you agree with me?

A Co-Worker Is Absent. What Do You Do?


Now let’s be honest shall we? This question of what to do as a response can be looked at and answered with a few possible approaches. You might be thinking to yourself that what you SHOULD do and what you’ll ACTUALLY do are two very different things. If you and I were sitting across from each other in a job interview and I posed the question to you, no doubt you’d voice the reply that falls in line with the former, not the latter.

Then again the answer to this question might depend on whether the absence of a co-worker has any immediate impact on your job responsibilities. It could be that when someone on the team or shift is away, there’s no impact on anyone’s job duties. With a neutral impact, you might just be entirely unaffected; no increased calls, no extra customers to contact, no extra work or extra benefits coming your way.

Far from a negative thing, it could be that you’re on commission, and one less co-worker is one less person getting in the way of your potential earnings. An absent co-worker is a good thing, and that dream vacation you’ve been working extra time to realize just got a little closer. You not only thrive in their absence, you relish the possibility that you’ll find yourself in the same situation tomorrow!

However, in many environments, the absence of one person on the team has an impact on those employees who did make it in to work; the impact is often more work to be spread out, increased pressure to pitch in and contribute, etc. What you had planned to do for the day isn’t going to happen the way you’d envisioned it. Upper management has possibly come around to make sure everybody is well aware of the absent employee; the speech about teamwork, the slap-on-the-back, ‘all for one and one for all’ with a hearty, “I know I can count on you all” sermon said, they return to their offices thankful that they are one step removed from the front line.

There’s the co-worker who responds by immediately checking the absent employees schedule, and calls all their appointments to cancel as fast as possible. This way, they won’t be called upon to see clients and customers they don’t know. It may not be the best customer service, but hey, it’s a dog-eat-dog world right? I mean you fend for yourself and let the fallout – if there even is any – happen down the road.

It’s not all bad though. No, there’s the overly helpful ones; you know, the man or woman who says to themselves, ‘I’d want someone to do what they could in my absence so sure I’ll pitch in and do my share to the extent I can.’ They do so much in fact that their own work takes a back seat. Slackers love having these people on their team. They just seem so easy to take advantage of having that good nature imbedded in their DNA. If the slacker plays their cards right and isn’t too overt in how they seem to do things when they really don’t, they could get that do-gooder to cover for them in return for doing next to nothing to help out at these times for years.

The accountable ones…now these people are the ones that use solid reasoning to decide what they can offer without sacrificing their own schedules unduly. After all, a customer is a customer no matter if it’s theirs or the absent employee on the one hand. However, on the other hand, they might have their own quotas that need attention, and they reason that if the workload gets split up evenly – everybody doing their part – the impact on everyone overall is minimized and shared.

Some readers are already moving to what they perceive the view of management will be. You know, seeing supervisors and bosses as not caring really who they’ve got on their teams as long as the work gets done, quotas are met, targets achieved and profits maximized. The parts are interchangeable; and you and I in their opinion are the interchangeable parts to be discarded when it suits. With a long line of people willing to take your place and mine, they just don’t care the way they used to.

Maybe that has been your experience and if so, it’s shaped the way you view the world and the people in it. You’ve possibly become jaded yourself in how you view things and how you view others.

If you’ve had bosses that not only expect results but truly care about the workers achieving those results, you see things differently. Why I’ve had bosses who roll up their sleeves and pitch in from time-to-time when and as needed. It’s kept them in touch with the front lines, gained respect among staff and has never been a sign of their lack of supervision and leadership to do so.

You know what prompted this topic for today? You guessed it! An absent co-worker. Actually, you’re only part right. There’s not just one, but 4 co-workers on my team away today and only one was scheduled off. So three unexpected absences. Yikes! Thankfully our team is made up of contributors, problem-solvers. In addition, three staff on other teams voluntary contributed time to cover short breaks and lunch.

So how do you react to absent co-workers?

Growth Starts With An Open Mind


Your future is likely to replicate your past and present unless an element of change is introduced. In other words, do what you’ve always done and you shouldn’t be shocked to find that things stay relatively the same. This is wonderful if you generally like things the way they are. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something different, hopefully better than what you’ve got, change is more than just desirable; change is critical.

Most people are quite open to change actually, as long as the change required isn’t uncomfortable or involve too much effort on their part. These kind of people have a guiding philosophy that goes, “I’m open to change as long as things stay relatively the same; or if the change is occurring in people around me and not in me directly.” Uh, that’s not going to work.

This article however has the word, ‘growth’ in the title, so why the focus on change in the opening couple of paragraphs? Growth occurs simply put when change occurs and one learns from the process. Just because things change however doesn’t guarantee that growth occurs. A person can move from one city to another hoping for a fresh start with that change of address. While the intention might be good, without behaving and acting differently, it is likely that the person will find themselves living the same kind of experience and being treated by others the same way they were in the past because change only occurred in the address not the person. Their behaviour remained the same and thus the world around them continues to interact with them in a similar way, and they continue to experience their reality in much the same way.

Personal growth occurs when new challenges are initiated, new experiences are undertaken and one is open and receptive to receiving. An open mind; seeing things perhaps that have always been there before us but looking at them through a new perspective. Sometimes this comes about through instruction from a mentor, an expert or an instructor. Sometimes things become revealed to us equally through the eyes of a child, by accidental discovery or through pause and reflection.

We can of course open our minds to a problem every by simply by introducing a different stimulus. If you’re having a problem with something, you’ll often find that taking a break, going for a walk or any diversion really can help you return with a new perspective and often a solution you hadn’t considered before. What’s occurred is the break in the thinking process; you’ve returned without the linear thought lines you had, and see things anew.

I have found that for me personally, there are many moments when I’m working with other people which places me in a position to learn. Formally speaking, I might be the facilitator in a workshop, the expert helping give employment advice or being the listener as someone shares their troubles. While I might be seen as the one imparting the advice or sharing my knowledge, these are moments of growth for me personally if I recognize them as such and open my mind to the moment.

So for example, when I’m passing on some information, I may find that the person I’m attempting to instruct is having a challenge grasping what I’m saying. If I keep repeating the message over and over hoping to drive the point home eventually I may succeed, but it’s unlikely. Why? Because the way I’m delivering the message isn’t being received in a meaningful way by the other person. By opening my mind to other ways of delivering that same message, I will invariably find I meet with success. How? I opened myself to the moment, reassessed the situation and arrived at a new way to make a successful connection, having my message not only be sent but most importantly be received in the way I intended at the start. True communication has occurred as a result and we both learned something in the process; each of us growing as a result.

You’ll find that many employers are wary of the seasoned veteran; the know-it-all who comes to them with decades of experience. It appears to the applicant that they’ve got this sizable advantage over the relatively inexperienced competition who they don’t legitimately give much thought to. However, often times an employer will favour and select an individual with less experience simply because they are open to change, receptive to new ideas; in short they will grow in the position. They fear the person with decades of experience will be – despite their assurances to the contrary – close-minded to learning new procedures, methods and practices. This is the classic, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” mantra.

There is a fallacy in white-washing an entire population or group with the same brush however. Some older workers make excellent employees because they marry their experiences both work-related and life-wise with an open mind. They continue to grow and learn and are genuine in their excitement about continuous learning. The challenge they face is expressing this and being believed.

Wisdom would seem than to be going about with an open mind, being on the lookout for learning opportunities which are around us daily. Seeing things from multiple perspectives, being receptive to new ideas, and pausing to reflect when hearing views different from those we hold ourselves. May you continue to grow.

 

 

Wheelchair Basketball And Relationship Building


Over the last two weeks I was fortunate to be among those presenting workshops for my colleagues in the Social Services Department where I work. This was an inaugural event; hopefully the first of what will be an annual undertaking. I say I was fortunate because there were only 3 workshops offered in any one day and to be involved in facilitating 1 of them was my privilege.

In addition to the workshops, there was a keynote speaker, some testimonials from those in receipt of our services both past and present, and there was a presentation on local workforce statistics too; giving us a fairly tight day. There was of course a much-appreciated luncheon too; if you feed us, we will be happier!

I tell you though, one of the most unusual and looked-forward-to activities of the day however was the opportunity to play some wheelchair basketball with my co-workers during our lunch break. It wasn’t the only option either. Some staff opted to join a drum circle; where 2.5 foot bongo-style drums appeared and a trained player came in to lead whoever opted to join the activity in learning how to play.

Oh and the third lunchtime option was sitting down and learning how to turn those plastic milk bags – the ones that hold three plastic milk bags inside – into a weaved mat for families in poorer parts of the world to sleep on as a makeshift mattress. That was even more unique than the wheelchair basketball; I’d never heard of such a thing and it was indeed something to see completed.

My choice was to get out on the court and try out my skills while confined to a wheelchair and unable to use my legs in the process. It was so much fun the first day, that when I returned on the following two days, I opted to play a second and then a third time too. As those attending each day were different people, it gave me the chance to interact with fresh faces and play with or against co-workers I both seldom see or work with. Our department is very large you see, and we are spread across 5 locations so we don’t actually meet face-to-face often.

If like me, you’ve never had the chance to sit in a wheelchair and play the game, you should definitely take advantage of the opportunity if you can. Forget about your natural talent or lack of it. This wasn’t about finding out who the great athletes are and separating the good from the bad. This was all about having fun and interacting with people we’d only normally interact with in a strictly work-like capacity.

We’d all assemble on the court, strapped in to avoid falling, and then experiment with manoeuvering around the floor. Learning how much speed we could generate, how to turn left or right, how to pick up the ball from the floor and most importantly of course, how to shoot the ball without being able to generate any power whatsoever from our legs. That was a great leveling experience! One of the adaptations we were glad to see was the hanging of two hula hoops from the basket at each end. The lowest hoop counted as a point, the higher one worth a couple and if you did score in the traditional basketball net, it was worth three points.

Make no mistake it was fun; it wasn’t about which team won, how many points were scored or defended against.  We had I suspect about 7 players on each team, although no one really stopped and counted. There were no substitutions or referee, no out-of-bounds even when the ball did go where the traditional boundary lines were painted on the floor. We were lucky in fact that there was netting all around the playing area to catch stray passes and missed shots.  We were onlookers too; curious co-workers cheering on the group of us, curious enough to hang out with us but not interested in actually playing.

Like a lot of activities it accomplished what it was designed to do. Give staff the opportunity to bond with each other and interact in a fun way. In this sense, we all won. It was a good time. So good was it in fact that some wondered aloud if that wouldn’t be a great social activity for upcoming birthday parties with friends. That might sound unusual plans for a birthday party, but it put a lot of smiles on our faces.

When you play together you work better together. Relationship-building is something many good organizations seek to encourage in their employees. The people I typically email or speak with over the phone, but whom I seldom see face-to-face except in training events I now know better. The fun basketball get together is really the vehicle or tool that gives us some common ground upon which to strengthen our working relationship. It accomplishes the same thing for those I work with daily, including the person I share my office with. Getting together in a non-traditional way.

Mission accomplished. I’ve yet to hear anyone involved who didn’t have a good time. I feel that (heaven forbid) I should lose the use of my legs, I have something positive to look forward to, not to mention a real appreciation for those who unlike me, can’t get up and walk away when the game is over.