Mak­ing it a team sport

The Signal - - Business - Paul BUT­LER

Last Sun­day, my wife and I served as vol­un­teers at the Santa Clarita marathon.

We were course mon­i­tors, which was a pretty easy task. Our main job was to en­cour­age the run­ners and en­sure they didn’t go the wrong way. We were sta­tioned on the paseo be­tween Creek­side and Va­len­cia Boule­vard.

We could tell some of the run­ners had their hun­gry eyes on the Black Bear Grill restau­rant, but we kept them on the straight and nar­row path.

Prior to the first run­ners com­ing through our sta­tion, we had some time to chat with David and Richard — two fine young em­ploy­ees of the city of Santa Clarita.

Both of these guys were su­per-stoked to be work­ing and liv­ing in the city we all call home.

Our busi­ness does a lot of work with other city gov­ern­ments, and it’s rare to see this level of em­ployee en­gage­ment and pos­i­tiv­ity from civil ser­vants — many of whom aren’t civil and few, see them­selves as ser­vants.

Whereas an in­di­vid­ual per­son runs a marathon, the host­ing of a marathon is most def­i­nitely a team sport. The team con­sisted of paid re­sources such as city staff, deputies and medics roam­ing the course. In ad­di­tion there were just as many vol­un­teers giv­ing about six hours of their Sun­day to help de­liver a safe, fun and memorable ex­pe­ri­ence for each par­tic­i­pant.

In be­tween bursts of run­ners com­ing through our sta­tion, I started think­ing about the par­al­lels be­tween a marathon and the work­place. I con­sol­i­dated my

ob­ser­va­tions into these five points:

1. Ef­fec­tive events hap­pen by ev­ery­one giv­ing their best ef­fort re­gard­less of pay level. Yes, some peo­ple were paid to work and some were vol­un­teers but col­lec­tively we all served to­gether to achieve a com­mon goal. The work­place should just be like that. I of­ten say all or­ga­ni­za­tions are vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tions, as peo­ple will choose how much to give of them­selves. I saw for ex­am­ple in David and Richard, two highly mo­ti­vated em­ploy­ees go­ing over and beyond what was on their job de­scrip­tions.

2. There is a right way and a wrong way. There were nu­mer­ous times yes­ter­day where my wife had to call out the right way to go, as the run­ners some­times got con­fused at her sta­tion. It’s just like that in the work­place — there are be­hav­iors, which are right, and those that are wrong. We would have far less cor­rup­tion, abuse and neg­a­tiv­ity in the work­place if more em­ploy­ees ad­hered to what was right and didn’t run the wrong way.

3. Only one per­son wins a marathon although all finishers got a medal. Com­pe­ti­tion is a good thing in all or­ga­ni­za­tions as it en­cour­ages mo­ti­va­tion, in­no­va­tion and cre­ative think­ing. When a busi­ness wins a con­tract there’s only one win­ner — ev­ery­one who par­tic­i­pates (i.e. em­ploy­ees and ven­dors) on that con­tract wins a medal, which is what we call a pay­check or pur­chase or­der in busi­ness. Peo­ple who stay at home or stand on the side­lines or reg­is­tered run­ners who choose not to show up don’t get a medal. It’s like that in the real world of work.

4. I should imag­ine the pos­i­tive eco­nomic im­pact of the events from this past week­end sur­round­ing the marathon and the other re­lated runs was very sig­nif­i­cant. I don’t know what the num­ber is but I think it would be rea­son­able to as­sume an in­flow of about $10M. The win­ners would be lo­cal ho­tels, restau­rants and gas sta­tions to name just a few. This is a per­fect pic­ture of the eco­nomic cy­cle of busi­ness — govern­ment pro­vides the plat­form for busi­nesses to con­duct com­merce. In turn, busi­nesses gen­er­ate prof­its, which are taxed and em­ploy peo­ple who pay taxes on their in­come. That’s macro-eco­nomic team­work.

So the old adage is true as cheesy as it sounds — team­work re­ally does make the dream work. It was an honor to serve along­side David and Richard, as well as all of the other paid and un­paid re­sources to help cre­ate a safe, fun and memorable

ex­pe­ri­ence for all who par­tic­i­pated. Thank you also to all the ho­tels, restau­rants and gas sta­tions etc who pro­vided su­perb ser­vice that gen­er­ates tax dol­lars to en­ables us to do this all again Lord-will­ing in 2019.

Paul But­ler is a Santa Clarita res­i­dent and a client part­ner with

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