Crisis Company Building



Seems like an odd title for a Monday morning. Yesterday was one of those days where I believe so many felt such content which led to this content.

The crisis began in the mid 80’s and by the early 90’s I was ¬†personally and professionally aware of the issue called AIDS.

And then, the job of a lifetime appeared, Executive Director of AIDS Foundation Houston. In hindsight, I was professionally naive. I was entering the world of what I had spent years consulting about; management. The bad news was I knew virtually nothing about 90% of what I was being asked to do. Consulting and doing are VERY different.

I was feeling the crisis as the agency was trying to serve far too many seriously needy clients with limited funds and far less community awareness or understanding. And of course, I thought the team and community was looking to ME to fix it all, or were they? No, each person involved was actually looking to be a part creating and implementing solutions.

It is hard to understand crisis while you are in it, but over time so many management lessons for success emerge. These are at the very top of the learning journey lessons we valued:

1) No egos allowed. Ego driven team members are obvious and growth blockers. If you are new to a company, remember, there are usually staff with  knowledge and history already in place. They are the first resource, unless they are change resistant.

2) The client and their needs ALWAYS come first in developing the mission.

3) There is no I in TEAM. (Nor me for that matter) We became adept at hearing those involved in the work and when they used I, me, mine or my too often, they were usually not viable long term team members.

4) The clock should be used to meet a deadline of significance, not the end of a work shift. Some of the happiest and fondest memories were the “all nighters” to meet the proposal deadline.

5) Each person in the company has value and should be treated as such. Rewards come in many ways, not just a paycheck. If years later you can recall the experience with a deep sense of appreciation, you were paid well.

Yesterday, as some of the old staff and volunteers gathered, these were the themes discussed. Ultimately, the truth of the success of the work, we actually loved each other and still do. We had an environment where we could laugh and cry together. Years later, we still love each other’s success stories and are there for one another when there is a need.

Funny, how a company built in crisis left behind such a legacy of loving management and long term relationship loyalty. Do you wish your workplace had more of this?


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