Workspace Cowboys Manage the Herd

by Elizabeth Dukes on July 7, 2015

Wild West cowboys knew their main goal on the trail was to keep the herd intact and moving forward. The cattle represented currency and job success, so their survival and overall condition were critical to the cowboys end game. And no one wants to see his or her hard work undermined by poor management, ineffective operations, or missed opportunities. Today’s workspace cowboys have to make similar decisions about how to manage their herd, keep the team moving forward, and cut the weak stock out while maintaining a healthy core group. And, just like cowboys on the range, adhering to a few key principles for management and operations will keep your team moving down the trail.

Pride in the Job

Cowboys were often the models for self-sufficiency. They had to have all their tools and necessities ready to travel and minimized for quick pack outs. This couldn’t be achieved if they were unorganized and sloppy. Pride in appearance and ability were sought-after qualities. After all, a strong team is derived from strong individuals – there is no room for weak links. The successful FM “cowboys” have the same ethos, pride in appearance, team ability, and follow through. And a prideful community spirit is what often retains the best and cuts the rest. The best often being the team members who are consistently engaged in their work and champion the organization they work for. Employee engagement is on the rise for much of the business world in our post-recession marketplace. The churn and burn model for employees, where a continually rotating cast of characters with superficial ties to their “now” company, is being recognized as a detriment to team building. When employees don’t feel connected to their company, the pride factor is lost. Instead, the realization that building and maintaining a team is a better long-term investment and will outweigh any short-term gains garnered from lower wage, interchangeable workers. And, when you recognize the great work being done by an established team member, they are more likely to continue to strive for greater results and will generate more pride and connection to the organization. 


Recognize and Champion Success 

Everyone wants to be recognized for their hard work. Quality Workspace Cowboys that you want to retain are no different. Positive encouragement and acknowledgement for hard work is always welcomed and should outnumber criticisms, whenever possible, although constructive criticism should never be abandoned. In fact, statistically speaking, positive recognition is best for motivating employees; but criticism is still necessary for heading off negative or destructive behaviors, which can quickly spread an infect an entire organization. 

When giving praise, though, make sure it is specific and somewhat personal. Generalities about a “good job” are nice to hear, but specifics indicate to your team that you are actually paying close attention to the work they are doing. You show your commitment to the team and receive that same level of commitment.

Share Around the Campfire

“…if employee network groups are well-managed, they can provide leadership for resolving diversity issues instead of leading to separatism, as well as contribute to employees’ professional development and the bottom line.” –Patricia Digh, RealWork

When cowboys wanted to network, it was often in the form of campfire talks. Best practices in the saddle, updated trail maps and ornery varmints to be avoided were hot topics of discussion. Today, Workspace Cowboys are networking for best practices in and out of the office, new methods for gathering and utilizing data and avoiding pitfalls when dealing with a tough client. Communicating successes and failures is critical for building team bonds and retaining quality employees. Having a voice means having a stake in the organization and being able to share information gives everyone an edge in their job performance.

Employee Engagement

Also, sharing successes and failures encourages the team to blaze new trails for problem solving and improving best practices. Maybe an idea is fresh and new, but needs a different perspective to add the last critical pieces. The input from the others can fill in those gaps and, again, will find your workers coming together as a team, building pride in their jobs and championing winning ideas and successes.

As more and more companies come around to the idea that it’s of greater benefit to retain quality employees over time, employers will be looking to improve the value of these retained employees. Giving them reason to work harder and smarter, with the promise of recognition, compensation and greater input in the organization builds loyalty and pride. In turn, the employer is granted a workforce which sees itself as part of the whole and not simply a hired gun, who may be no longer be needed, come tomorrow. Retain the best by treating them better than the rest. 


Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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