Rarely do we, as leaders, acknowledge our water cooler groupings. In the majority of cases, we have made great strides to restrict the gathering of people around or at a common location for long enough to talk. However, despite the fact that we’ve tried building food pantries, having different breaks, and observing the time spent by staff more thoroughly, the same small group seems to be around. For the people who have a hard time getting together, at the same time, we tend to avoid them.
What is a Cooler Gang? Cooler Gang
The distinctive characteristic of the water cooler group is that they do not use the traditional caste system you find in other areas of our company or organization. They’re comprised of employees of the entire staff, departments, and general employees throughout your company. The unique aspect of this group is the fact that they appear to be grouped to share information and knowledge but not for a specific goal or a specific time.
The group is composed of an avid information-seeker, an active listener negative personality, and information-sharing members who shift roles depending on the topic that is being debated.
Utilizing the Gang to Build Team Spirit
This group of people shares information within your organization more quickly than any other newsletter or email distribution method. Since they are from different departments and groups within the company, the information that they gather through their “meetings” is shared with personnel across the entire organization. Most of the time, they aren’t gossip but rather speculation. If you’re not getting reliable and up-to-date information from your employees, the water cooler crew will suggest the most rational solution to a question based on the opinions of the entire group.
Gangs of water coolers were the first model for team building. Different job categories with different skills and talents work together to learn new or additional information before disseminating and sharing the knowledge with their colleagues. One benefit of groups like this is that they are not just cost-effective; however, when properly managed, it is a great tool for the team’s building efforts.
What are the Water Cooler Gangs Discuss?
They discuss all things that impact your company, its work, or the business. It can be very damaging in the event that at least one of the members of the WCG is not armed with current and accurate details or explanations of the reason why certain events take place. If there is a gap in knowledge, the WCG will complete the gap, and often the speculation that comes due to filling in the gaps will be what is the “fact” that is revealed to your employees and your staff prior to the official announcement you’ve been working on for several weeks.
The WCG doesn’t meet to voice grievances; they gather to discuss issues and exchange information. This is advantageous and could be extremely helpful in team building as well as the implementation of change management.
How to Utilize your Water Cooler’s Gang Effectively
No matter if you’ve got one WCG or a lot, they are a great resource to know what’s happening in your business and for spreading the news to all.
The first thing you must do as a leader is to determine who the participants of every WCG are. After you’ve identified them, you can invite the people who are the information seeker/sharer(s) for Your Team Building Group as well as those committees that require personal commitment from the entire team. The person(s) can be expected to bring ideas from all areas of your business and will be able to share concerns and concerns that might not even have been addressed by the upper management. Another benefit of this approach is that you’ll be capable of dispelling certain myths that can arise when employees are not informed across the organization.
It is likely that your WCG member will report precise information to the group, who will then distribute that information within their own areas of the company. Furthermore, the WCG member is able to raise concerns and questions to committees. Many of the issues that are unintentional barriers to the team or change management development can be dealt with prior to them becoming issues. If nothing else, the WCG member is able to at least communicate the fact that the problem is being addressed even though the committee hasn’t yet reached a decision, which will eliminate the possibility of speculation.
Utilizing the Water Cooler Gangs gives two positive outcomes for you with little effort on the part of leaders. We are first acknowledging that these organizations exist and that they’re not going to disappear. Additionally, we are actively working with these groups in an inclusive manner to address issues to share information with them, and also incorporate them into the leadership process in a completely non-threatening manner.
Recognizing an informal group of employees, like those who drink water, we are actively incorporating a crucial part of our organization in our initiatives from the bottom up. This, by itself, will encourage the active participation of and support from your employees. It will also allow you to understand the unique perspective on sharing information that your employees are bringing to the management of change or team-building initiatives.
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