FEATURING:  Patricia McLaughlin, Director of Communications and Marketing, NH Public Radio

We were delighted to have the chance to connect with Tricia McLaughlin, Director of Communications & Marketing at New Hampshire Public Radio – one of our longtime member organizations. NHBSR and NHPR have worked together for a number of years, so it was fun to have a chance to both reflect back, as well as look forward.

I expect that we all tune into NHPR often—if not daily—for our local and national news. NHPR first came on the air in 1981, which meant listeners heard the station through a physical radio (remember what that is?) at home, in the office or in the car. If we flash-forward to 2019, we have more options than ever to access news and information. With NHPR, it’s no different. While over-the-air radio remains the foundation, NHPR has grown to include other forms of media which include its website -; social media properties; the ability to stream news over the internet; as well as podcast properties. From a single entity, NHPR has grown to have many tentacles, which allow listeners to access news and information whenever and however they want to.  As they say on the radio program Marketplace, “Let’s do the numbers.” NHPR’s listening audience is 175k weekly, the website has more than 250k monthly visitors, and the NHPR audience for podcasts continues to grow – more than four million listeners downloaded their recent podcast series, Bear Brook. In addition, NHPR’s newsroom has three times been cited for “Overall Excellence” in the national Edward R. Murrow Awards journalism competition.

Tricia has been with NHPR for almost two years. Like many New Hampshire natives, she lived and worked away from her home state for a few years, but wanted to stay connected.  For her, Twitter was where she first came into contact with NHPR—following the station online as a way to stay up to date on what was going on in New Hampshire. When asked what she loves about NHPR, Tricia was quick to reply that for her working for a mission-based organization with such a terrific product is really gratifying. “As a former journalist myself and life-long news junkie, I love hearing every day about the trusted, thoughtful news gathering that is coming out of our newsroom,” she said. In addition to local news shows like The Exchange and in-depth podcasts, she says NHPR is also about airing wonderful programs that are staples of public media and that inspire and feed the soul. She cites The Daily, The Moth Radio Hour, and Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! as three of her favorite programs that also are popular with listeners. Tricia believes this combination of local, national and international news and storytelling allows NHPR to connect on a local level while bringing the wider world closer.

NHPR has been a member of NHBSR for eight years. NHBSR feels very fortunate to have been able to work with NHPR in a collaborative fashion over the years. Sam Evans-Brown, host of NHPR’s Outside/In podcast about the natural world, has been a long standing judge at the Sustainability Slam, helping to select the finalists with the most impactful, creative approaches to sustainability opportunities. Laura Knoy of NHPR’s live talk show The Exchange, hosted a Sustainability Roundtable at LaBelle Winery in June 2016. Panelists for the roundtable included NHBSR member companies, along with Sam Evans-Brown talking about how sustainability can support our communities while positively impacting the bottom line.

When asked where she sees the organizations connecting, Tricia shared that she sees both NHPR and NHBSR as public-serving organizations, which makes for a certain synergy.

“Through our daily news gathering and storytelling, we hold a mirror up to the issues, opportunities and challenges that impact communities and individuals around the state. Being a part of that conversation and also working on other fronts in collaboration with community groups around the state who are making a difference is really gratifying,” she said.

NHBSR and NHPR are expanding our partnership in the coming year, exploring more ways to engage our common audiences through new opportunities and valuable exploration. Stay tuned for ways that you can connect.

NHPR’s newsroom regularly covers issues regarding the environment: Seacoast Reporter Annie Ropeik is devoted to the energy and environment beat; the Outside/In podcast continues to share stories about the natural world and how we use it; and the weekly feature Something Wild explores the natural resources, wildlife and landscapes of New Hampshire.

With technology evolving as quickly as it does, the ongoing challenge is anticipating how and where audiences will want to access their information. NHPR hopes that their programming is seen as a conversation catalyst, inspiring us all to explore, inspire and grow.

Tricia welcomes the chance to connect. She can be reached at 603-223-2444 or

By Deb LeClair, Psy. D, Sojourn Partners

debra_leclair_headshot_2017-1.png“What’s this mindfulness stuff?” is not a question I hear often in the business sector anymore. Thanks to decades of research and mainstream media attention, in 2019 most professionals have some sense of what mindfulness is and its value. This is why so many high-profile companies as well as local organizations have already brought the practice into their workplaces. Simple things, such as the mindful practice of beginning a meeting with a moment of observing the breath, works well to attune everyone’s nervous systems to focus on the task at hand.

Learning to pay full attention to what is happening in the present moment can translate into more accurately reading the room, setting the stage for more effective communication in meetings, on projects and for understanding your client’s needs. Other benefits include calming your nervous system so inevitable stressors don’t bowl you over, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and scattered. Instead, you can meet challenges with a clear and grounded perspective. This is because mindfulness helps you to access more parts of the brain, particularly the areas that help you prioritize, think through desirable outcomes and creatively problem solve.

At this year’s Spring Conference, join us for your own taste of mindfulness to start the day off on a fully present, clear and calm note. Our Mindfulness Essentials starts at 7:45 am and runs until 8:15 am. No prior experience needed. All are welcome.

Register for the conference today to join Deb in an early morning mindfullness session and connect with her in person!!

By Beth Tener, Principal of New Directions Collaborative


PG&E, California’s largest electric utility, recently filed for bankruptcy, in what many in the business press were calling “the first major corporate casualty of climate change.”  As we think about how organizations and communities adapt to change, particularly a changing climate, this story has some potent lessons.

California’s forests are more combustible, in part arising from changes in weather patterns from climate change. A failure of equipment or hanging wire that may not have been a problem a few years ago, now can cause massive damage in a short time. “Five of the 10 most destructive fires in California since 2015 have been linked to PG&E’s electrical network,” according to a New York Times article.  PG&E missed the wake-up call and the opportunity to respond to changing conditions before them.

Climate is just one of many issues that is and will be, sparking wake up calls in the years to come. How do we strengthen our organization and community’s ability to respond proactively to wake up calls rather than go back to sleep? A core capacity needed now is the ability to be sensitive to the changing landscape – to recognize the changes, understand the implications, imagine and be ready for futures quite different than the past (i.e., collective sensemaking). Then, it is key to respond – to be innovative, adapt, change, and be willing to let go of the status quo and change.   

The challenge is that organizations and institutions themselves can get in the way of this ability to respond to change. Institutions have a tendency to protect turf and sustain themselves, even if it is to the detriment of the community or their own members (e.g., the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal.) Hierarchical top-down organizations often don’t capture and connect the best thinking and innovative ideas of all their members. They can produce fragmented work, a focus on narrow metrics while losing sight of negative consequences, and create power dynamics that mean some voices are listened to while others aren’t and some departments talk to others, while others don’t.  

Recognizing the shortcomings of hierarchical organizations, innovations are underway to organize work based in a paradigm of “living systems,” with self-organizing teams and an adaptive innovative focus. One of the leading thinkers and practitioners of this way of working is Carol Sanford, who wrote The Regenerative Business. As a management consultant, for over 40 years, she has guided organizations to adopt a regenerative way of working. She defines as “the process by which people, institutions, and materials evolve the capacity to fulfill their inherent potential in a world that is constantly changing around them.” 

She will be the keynote speaker at the NHBSR’s conference this year.  Her latest book focuses on how we design work to intentionally develop people’s talents, while growing the ability of all people in a company to focus on the needs of customers and the changing environment. Sanford offers is a comprehensive way to build individual critical thinking skills and an organizational design to allow people and teams to create and contribute, aligned to the needs of the customer and larger community/environment. Her stories of how companies evolved and innovated in the face of change have helped me appreciate how crucial the design of how we work, and how we think, is to our collective ability to adapt and innovate in response to wake up calls.

Don’t miss your wake-up call!  Register for the conference today to learn how your company can dynamically innovate for changing conditions.


FEATURING:  Ian MacDermott, Senior Financial Advisor of The MacDermott Group at Merrill-Lynch

The MacDermott Group at Merrill-Lynch in Manchester, NH was formed over 25 years ago by father and son team Wally and Ian MacDermott. Though Wally has since retired, the team has expanded to include Registered Senior Client Associate Ashley Berberian and Financial Advisor Sara Bee, who also serves on NHBSR's Measure What Matters NH Committee.

Ian, who grew up in Bedford, NH, encourages and supports his team in giving back to the local community by participating in various nonprofit organizations. Though The MacDermott Group consists of only three people, the team is actively involved in a host of local organizations, including: Easterseals NH, which provides a multitude of community services, The Farnum Center, which support individuals and families struggling with addiction, NH High Tech Council, which opens up STEM opportunities for students across NH, and the Manchester Police Athletic League, which helps foster positive interactions between inner-city youth and the police.

In developing financial portfolios and strategies, The MacDermott Group finds ways to use investment as a tool to similarly give back to and improve our world. Ian, Sara, and Ashley strive to understand the most important issues to clients both personally and financially, then design financial plans that meet these goals. "What we're seeing," says Ian, "is that more and more people are shopping in their day to day lives and making buying decisions based on goals they see for society and our world. We have the opportunity to direct that same energy and passion towards investing bigger financial assets for even greater positive change." For example, guided by the social and environmental issues most important to their clients, The MacDermott group can develop investment portfolios of companies that support greater representation of women on their executive board and are carbon zero.

"Years ago," remarks Ian, "people might have eliminated parts of an investment portfolio that supported alcohol and tobacco or something else they found detrimental to society. Now we're actually seeing that people are proactively and specifically wanting to invest in companies that can demonstrate a positive track record in supporting causes and a vision of society our clients believe in. And we are also now seeing studies confirm that investing in positive outcomes for society actually results in better stock portfolios and financial results for our client. We've develop ways to screen for and rank the performance of companies and their impact on our world."

Ian believes that investors have a personal and professional responsibility towards driving positive changes throughout society and that they are uniquely poised to do. By aligning clients personal and financial goals with outcomes that are most beneficial to our society, The MacDermott Group at Merrill-Lynch is able to have significant impacts on the kind of companies supported and able to thrive in our society as well as to push other companies to be better. The MacDermott Group very evidently cares about our communities and world and is just as dedicated to helping others drive positive changes throughout our society.

You can reach out to Ian to learn more about The MacDermott Group at Merrill-Lynch at



By Allan Reetz, Director of Public Relations at Hanover Co-op Food Stores

In my role as director of public relations at the Hanover Co-op Food Stores, I’m involved in a wide range of community issues. My daily to-do list is centered on using the strength and size of our business to achieve positive results for the greater community good. From food security to local agriculture, public transportation to affordable workforce housing, the tasks are varied and ever-changing.

Now, you may be asking yourself, what does any of that have to do with the Hanover Co-op? Well, weakness in any of those areas erodes the community and economy we all depend on. Problem-solving leads to strength and future success across our region.

High on our cooperative’s list of community concerns is the lack of options for paid family and medical leave at small businesses in New Hampshire and Vermont. Time off for medical reasons is available at our co-op via the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, Short Term Disability and the extended illness bank, yet so many small businesses lack an affordable way to help their employees in times of need. Throughout 2018, I added the Hanover Co-op’s voice to the thousands of people stepping up to fix this.

The good news is, in 2018 the legislatures in Vermont and New Hampshire each passed bills that would help ease this burden by creating a state-level Family and Medical Leave program. The unfortunate news is, a veto in Vermont and the threat of a veto in New Hampshire doomed each bill.

We have all been touched by a serious illness striking oneself or a family member. Of course, many of us have enjoyed the birth of a child. Yet, even that brings with it the challenges of transitioning to parenthood. Now imagine your newborn child has complications. (Maybe that has actually happened to you). Perhaps you have an aging parent whose health is failing. Cancer seems to touch us all in one way or another. In each of those scenarios, being able to take time off without risking your job or income to care for family and self is vital.

Could you choose between family and income?

Right now, thousands of workers in New Hampshire and Vermont lack any access to paid Family and Medical Leave. This is why we take action.

Throughout this New Year, the Hanover Co-op will continue its work with New Hampshire’s Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy and Vermont’s Main Street Alliance to advocate for strong, universal paid family and medical leave bills in New Hampshire and Vermont.

We have the ability and the responsibility to speak up.

Adapted by the author for the NHBSR audience from its original publication on Co-op News


FEATURINGRyan Barton, CEO of Mainstay Technologies.

Growing your company from a one-man tech support operation out of your Ford Explorer into a 55-employee, multi-office IT and Information Security firm in just over a decade takes ingenuity and hard work. Doing it well, with a focus on creating good within and without the organization takes great intentionality.

Mainstay Technologies adheres to a kind of intentionality that has allowed the company to not only grow so impressively, but thrive as an organization committed to its team, community, and our world. While the company specializes in providing IT and Information Security services to businesses and nonprofits, its vision and the way it operates speaks to a greater philosophy of creating positive change. This emanates from the very identity of the company itself.

"We always keep to our mission of being a power for good," says Ryan Barton, CEO of Mainstay Technologies, "We're here for the long haul and attempt to be purposeful in everything, from the way we develop team members, keep our growth in check to keep service quality extremely high, or source ever-more and more sustainable solutions."

Mainstay manifests this philosophy of intentionality and good business practices in the strong relationships it builds with and within the organizations it serves. While many tech firms may be able to highlight their great client relationships, Mainstay goes a step further in helping businesses and nonprofits develop a broader view and approach to organization-wide security, ensuring companies develop a strong culture around how employees connect and communicate throughout the organization. This company-level approach requires the kind of intentionality Mainstay Tech has fine-tuned, offering a deeper level of engagement and value for clients than being just an outsourced IT department.

Internally, Mainstay is also very deliberate in how it develops team member relationships. This starts with crafting each role for meaningful work that a team member can take pride in and grow from. Designated among the Best Businesses to Work For by Business NH Magazine, Mainstay is a leader in fostering a thriving workforce. Its initiatives include significant ongoing training, certification bonuses, tuition reimbursement, family leave policies, and a wellness plan that includes standing desks for all.

"Businesses at their core," says Ryan, "are engines that create value. A good business should create value for all of its stakeholders: its clients, team, community, owners, vendors, and environment." At Mainstay, that intentionality is clear in its use of clean energy (the Belmont office is powered by 308 onsite solar panels and the Manchester office via a contract for wind power), paperless office, and dedicated charitable fund, through which Mainstay donates tens of thousands of dollars in local charities and scholarships annually.

Mainstay strives to create value and good in the world. Mainstay Technologies is, as Ryan has put it, "here for the long haul."

You can learn more about Mainstay at or reach out at


(Photo credit: ReVision Energy)

Addressing the impending climate crisis will require a more comprehensive collaborative, bipartisan approach

By Dan Weeks, Director at ReVision Energy

A few weeks ago, my family joined hundreds of thousands of others in celebrating New Hampshire’s natural splendor in the White Mountain National Forest. As we took in the fall foliage from the Cog Railway and hiked along the Pemigewasset River, it was impossible to imagine that just a century ago, these same landscapes were anything but natural or splendid.

Extensive documentary evidence from the turn of the 20th century reveals that unregulated clear-cutting by private logging outfits had wiped out most of New Hampshire’s virgin forests and left the iconic mountainsides bare. Rivers and streams were choked with sawdust and silt, robbing downstream factories of vital waterpower. Eroding hillsides were no match for the rains, which produced damaging floods. A series of deadly forest fires claimed some 10 percent of the present-day national forest. The area we so prize today was termed “the lands nobody wanted.” New Hampshire’s economy and way of life were at risk.

In response, a motley coalition of environmentalists, businessmen and elected officials — led by Republicans — set out to achieve a quintessentially conservative end: preserving New Hampshire’s most precious natural resources for future generations. Conservationists at the Appalachian Mountain Club and NH Forest Society were joined by timber associations and magazines seeking government stabilization of a volatile lumber market; hotel owners and their guests dismayed at the sight of bare and blackened slopes; Manchester industrialists in need of a stable source of energy to power their factories and keep their employees at work. Their combined efforts paid off in 1911 with passage of the Weeks Act in Congress, establishing the national forest system and its 20 million acres of protected public lands nationwide.

Republican reformers like John Wingate Weeks of Lancaster recognized that government action was needed to rein in the excesses of a private enterprise system that placed profits before people and the planet. Although I can claim no part in that struggle (save my grateful membership in the Forest Society today), I know it stands as one of the proudest achievements in my great-great-granddad’s storied career as a Naval officer, congressman, senator and secretary of war.

The White Mountain National Forest, a 750,000-acre tract of land with 1,200 miles of hiking trails and countless tourist attractions, contributes nearly $9 billion to our state’s outdoor recreation industry — home to some 80,000 jobs — while also enabling responsible logging and other commercial activities. It is a gift to be treasured.

Nevertheless, the long-term health of our national forests — and the larger ecosystem on which they and we depend — is under increasing threat from a greater environmental challenge than the one my great-great-granddad faced a century ago: rapid climate change.

If current emissions trends continue, scientists warn, New Hampshire, with its 80 percent reliance on imported fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy sources, will see a 10ºF increase in average surface temperatures this century. The results of our 2ºF warming to-date since 1900 are already frightfully evident in northern New Hampshire and across the state.

Studies show that over half of New Hampshire’s moose in the Great North Woods have died due to tick infestations caused by warming winters. Loons are also increasingly at risk as rising temperatures disrupt their natural migration from inland lakes to the sea. Even the sturdy maple tree – part of a billion-dollar tourism and maple sugaring industry – is under threat as winter thaws and summer droughts cause it to “sicken, decline and disappear [or] migrate north,” according to NHDES.

Winter as we know it may well disappear.

Addressing the impending climate crisis will require an even more comprehensive and collaborative approach than that untaken by principled conservatives and their allies a century ago. Republicans and Democrats now have an urgent responsibility to stand up to the fossil fuel industry — the number one contributor to global warming — and begin the wholesale transformation of our energy system to clean renewable sources of power.

The newly-released “100% Renewable Energy Strategy for New Hampshire’s Future” is an important step in that direction. Written by a volunteer group of state legislators,   environmentalists and businesspeople, the plan charts a realistic pathway for New Hampshire to move from near-total reliance on non-renewable energy today to 100 percent homegrown clean energy by 2040.

By harnessing sunlight, wind and water and investing in energy conservation, the strategy would rapidly reduce carbon pollution while curbing electricity costs and adding thousands of clean tech jobs in a state that desperately needs to attract a younger workforce.

The time is now for conservatives and progressives to apply the lessons of the past and build a brighter, cleaner energy future together for the state we love.

Originally published on NHBR


(photo credits: MegaFood)

Learn about Leading MWM NH Company Stonyfield's Commitment to Sustainability and the Value of Impact Assessments

Measure What Matters New Hampshire offers a clear and practical assessment tool NH businesses can use to benchmark their sustainability initiatives. This new program additionally offers members of the NHBSR community the opportunity to work with trained UNH student consultants to better develop their own sustainability programs. MWM NH participants will also have access to a members only Sustainable Resource Network and an accompanying series of specially tailored workshops.


Our world is in nutritional crisis. We have widespread food insecurity in many  parts of the world and, of the food that is readily available, we are seeing a decline in its nutritional content due to large-scale conventional agriculture and climate change. This grim reality affects us all. 

Founded in New Hampshire in 1973, MegaFood seeks to nourish a world in nutritional crisis, its people and communities, through whole food supplements and vitamins. In addition to providing a product that can bridge personal nutritional gaps, MegaFood is a dedicated advocate and supporter of regenerative agriculture, which, among other things, replenishes healthy soils and draws carbon back into the ground reducing the effects of climate change. Ashley Larochelle, Vision Activation Manager at MegaFood explains, "We have about a 60-year time clock where we won't be able to grow food anymore on planet earth unless we change the way we do things. This shift needs to happen rapidly and on a big scale and MegaFood is deeply invested in leading this change."

A significant component of MegaFood's commitment to sustainability, the B Impact Assessment allowed the company to prove what they were doing helped people and the planet and see where they needed to invest more time and effort. Ashley, who started out as an Executive Assistant without any background in sustainability lead MegaFood's effort to complete their assessment. This task, Ashley states, "does not need to be driven by someone who has an extensive background in sustainability or measurement metrics. Someone who has a high-level view of the organization (and understands who does what) like an Executive Assistant, Receptionist or Project Manager would be perfect for the role." Regarding getting the rest of the company on board, Ashley remarks, "Our CEO Robert Craven was super easy! Because MegaFood is very mission based already, completing the formal assessment was an obvious next step to leveling us up against the best of the best companies, including our competitors. B Corp Certification is a major differentiator. Today's consumers (and millennial workforce) demand a level of transparency and social commitment and our Impact Assessment helped us achieve and convey our impact."

One of the areas most valuable to MegaFood on the assessment was it focus on workforce practices, as it helped the company set and achieve its goalpost for paying living wages. Though MegaFood had always paid very competitively and significantly higher than federal minimum wage requirements, taking the assessment helped guide the company in its 2018 goal to pay above 25% the living wage and strive for that even higher in the future. This improvement has been beneficial company-wide. "Treating employees well has made it easier to fill job openings at MegaFood," says Ashley, "People work harder and stay with the company longer because they believe in our mission."

Now on our Measure What Matters NH Committee, Ashley wants to help others improve the impacts their companies have on the world. One concept Ashley finds particularly compelling is that of All Ships Rise. "MegaFood continues to be based here in NH and that's great," she explains, "but one of our reasons to grow sustainability initiatives in general is to teach and inspire other companies to be and do better. I want to be available to help people work through the issues and concerns they may have as they work to improve their sustainability initiatives. Together, being the best that we can be, will ultimately serve us all."

Reach out to Ashley about MegaFood or Measure What Matters New Hampshire at


unnamed_0.pngMEMBER FEATURE: a conversation with Jonathan Gregory, Managing Principal and Founder of Traverse Advising.

Jonathan Gregory has cultivated a deeply personal, collaborative, and pioneering approach to his work as an independent sustainability consultant. With a childhood spent exploring the woods and lakes of Northern New Hampshire, Jonathan has found a way to commit his life's work to finding solutions to improving the communities and helping protect the natural places he loves. He has a regional focus in advising clients in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts, where he's spent over a dozen years advancing sustainability practices.

Though Traverse Advising itself is relatively new, Jonathan's deep roots and ties to the region as a long time New Hampshire resident and community organizer is reflective in his work. Many of his projects come from partnering with other consulting firms across New England, a collaborative approach that both requires and lends itself to developing strong and meaningful community connections. Furthermore, sustainably as a field is so large in scope that being able to work together with field experts is necessary. Jonathan's particular expertise and certifications are in the strategizing around and measuring of nonfinancial (i.e. social and environmental) performance metrics. In our time of much needed action on climate change and cultural identity, companies are realizing that financial vitality is not the sole ingredient to their long-term success.  

"My interests and skillsets," says Jonathan, "have always been on how one develops and maintains a business that operates sustainability. One big issue I see is overconsumption of natural resources and another is the carbon emissions that are a consequence of our consumption levels, which, from a systemic standpoint, the planet cannot sustain." In addressing these big issues, Jonathan encourages all organizations to rethink how they measure their performance from a Triple Bottom Line perspective. He has worked in the private, nonprofit, and public sector on carbon mitigation. With a degree in entrepreneurship and management, his work with clients is inherently opportunity focused. "It's the client that I've got a relationship with. I want to know what their goals and ambitions are and find ways to help them make progress to becoming a more sustainable organization. It takes intimacy and long term planning to get organizations to think along the lines of: We can do more with our operation. We can be more community based. We can be more resource conservative. We can be smarter and perform better. Because there are so many opportunities for organizations to improve their practices, there's so much they can do and it's so vital for us to make this progress."

Though one of our newest members, Traverse Advising has already jumped into growing and strengthening the NHBSR network to better assist other members in understanding their sustainability practices and goals. Jonathan has joined our new Measure What Matters NH committee and hopes to learn from others about their sustainability efforts and share his own experiences within the field. He finds immense value in organizations delving deep into their own processes to analyze and develop long term strategies for improving their social and environmental impact. We're so thrilled to welcome him on board!!

We hope you will connect with Jonathan at our Sustainability Slam on November 1 in Amherst or you can reach out to him at!!


By Robin Eichart, Founder of PeopleSense Consulting

When working as part of a team, it can sometimes be tempting to take a back seat and just go along for the ride. Dominant personalities may push a specific agenda or maybe the project pushes some team members outside their comfort zone. There are lots of factors that can keep someone from being fully engaged as part of the group. But that mentality –that lack of full participation – is the silent killer of a team’s ultimate performance. 

Because teams are measured by their collective performance, individuals often forget the importance of their own impact. But without the valuable resources that each team member brings to the table, a project can end up with mediocre results or even go awry. 

Not sure how to keep everyone fully engaged (including yourself)? Here are some common scenarios and their easy fixes.

The Bench Warmer

When a team’s success is measured by the collective, it’s easy to understand how any one person can lose sight of why they matter. Someone who lacks awareness or doesn’t recognize how important they are to outcomes in the workplace may choose to sit on the sidelines instead of getting in the game.

For instance, an individual might think: “I don’t need to attend this meeting. There are enough others on the team to represent my opinion.” But what is lost is the unique expertise and experience that person brings. What they don’t understand is how truly necessary they are, and they miss out on the opportunity to share their Input.

Solutions: This is where it’s key to shine a spotlight on what each member of the team has to offer. It could be in the form of written and tracked expectations that are reviewed at team meetings. Or there might be some creative ways to reward team members who go above and beyond. In the same token, it’s important to address team members who aren’t pulling their weight. 

The goal is to make sure each individual fully understands their role and brings their energy to the task at hand. Encouraging everyone to excel can prevent individuals from simply keeping the bench warm.

The Underperforming Team

When one or more people within a team don’t bring their full potential to the work, it can quickly result in a collective downward spiral. It only takes a couple negative attitudes to derail the overall mindset of the group.

Solutions: First, determine whether the right people are on the team; this should be the responsibility of the team leader. If an individual is lacking the necessary skills or motivation and there isn’t a reasonable way to get them up to speed, then they aren’t going to be able to contribute fully. That lopsided or uneven contribution can quickly erode the camaraderie and commitment to high performance of other team members. 

Another important way to get things on track is to make sure everyone is on the same page. Start by opening a dialogue about what team members envision the outcomes of the project to be. During that discussion, look for discrepancies that might be clues. For example, is the team setting the bar high while the leader is content with so-so results (or vice versa)? Different expectations tend to result in big problems.

Imagine a brand-new manager wants to start a new program and has a lot of energy and enthusiasm around it. She puts together a team to help her implement the program, but all the members are already stretched thin by their current workloads. 

Though they might embrace the project, they likely have different expectations than the team leader about the scope of the project. Since they didn’t discuss and get on the same page, a lot of tension and frustration is sure to ensue as they go forward. 

The Floater

Without a defined role, it can be easy for an individual to fall into a pattern of aiming for the minimal standard instead of the highest. They end up floating out there without a real stake in the work. For this reason, it’s critical for every member of a team to be clear on their assignment and then be held accountable for executing it successfully.  

Solutions: The best way to set a new path in this case is to have an open conversation between the team leader and/or other team members to determine how each individual can contribute to the fullest. Team members might ask themselves:

  • Am I following up with tasks? 
  • Are my assignments completed on time or do other team members have to track me down?
  • Am I offering all my skills or assuming someone else will take care of it? 
  • Am I allowing the same people to volunteer for duties rather than speaking up to level the load? 

Falling short in any of these areas can detrimentally impact a team’s performance; ensuring that all team members are fully on board will increase motivation and improve outcomes.

Teams are complex, and they require consistent structure and communication to push all members to be their best. Though encouraging others is a helpful way to contribute, each individual must also take responsibility for their own performance. 

It may sound strange (or perhaps counter-intuitive), but a team’s work begins and ends with the individual! 

Originally published on Linkedin