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As I’ve talked to and learned about businesses with happy employees I’ve noticed a common theme of team sacrifice existing in the history of the company.

Whether the company is a start-up, fighting for survival or trying to expand to handle tremendous growth – employees will rise to the challenge and the culture will often be better for it.  Back to the old adage of what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.  Employees will gladly go the extra mile, “take one for the team” and go outside of their comfort zone when there is a compelling reason.  Everyone wants to be a hero, and everyone wants to be on a winning team.

Satisfaction arises from doing something well.  Engagement arises from contributing to something meaningful.  Happiness comes from feeling good about doing something well that contributes to something meaningful.

When employees sacrifice together for something bigger and greater than themselves (the company and the vision it reflects) and succeed a tremendous sense of camaraderie and bonding is created.  Trust, respect and appreciation is enhanced throughout the organization as each individual recognizes both the importance of their individual contribution as well as that of their colleagues.

However there are 5 pieces that are critical to make this work well:

1) Everyone within the organization needs to make a sacrifice.  If there is even a hint that one person on the team is coddled or free from the “shared suffering,” sacrifices will create resentment.

2) The Company vision must be both inspiring and compelling.  We’re in it to win it for the greater good.  Not for the bottom-line, unless the bottom-line feeds into how we create greater good.  Talk about the greater good that will be achieved through the sacrifice.  Remember numbers are cold when people are putting their sweat and tears on the line to help your company succeed.

3) Tell the story well and often of why and how.  Employees really need to understand why the company needs them to make a sacrifice.  How did the company get into the situation it’s in?   And how will their individual and collective sacrifice truly make the difference?  What will the company gain if they make their sacrifice?

4) Can’t be too long term.  We’ll all take one for the team.  However will we take two, three, four?  And by five, it’s no longer taking one for the team, it’s a chronic company problem that begins to weigh everyone down like an anvil.

5) Success as a result of the sacrifice.  The sacrifice has to have made a visible difference.  In order for it to go down into the positive history of the company in a story that is shared with excitement with new hires, the sweat and tears must be the sustenance that allowed the company to succeed.

To ask your employees to sacrifice is no small thing.  Just make sure when you do that you take the steps to arrive at a stronger company culture rather than to the depths of resentment and frustration.

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2.5 min readLast Updated: April 6th, 2021Published On: July 29th, 2010Categories: Organizational Culture Management, Team Building IdeasTags:

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