Groups are most vital and most effective when their members feel satisfied and positive being part of the group… and that’s achieved mostly through participation.
So for the sake of an ITC group and its members, let’s look at some of the best things that modern companies do to foster satisfaction among their employees.
And, more important, let’s see what works best in family management. After all, any techniques that can keep kids and hormone-raging adolescents feeling satisfied, positive, and responsible… well, those techniques will probably work for anyone.
In recent days I’ve read dozens of articles on business management and family management, and these are my three favorites… explaining clearly and concisely how to foster happiness and responsibility among employees and family members:
- CBS News: What makes people happy at work, a summary of a study by Canadian researchers John Graham and Michael Shier,
- Fortune: 5 tips for being happy at work, and
- Family Manager: Most important things to remember about family management, by self-educated mom and family expert Kathy Peel.
At work, here’s what keeps employees feeling satisfied and responsible, according to Graham and Shier:
- Flexible work schedules let employees sustain a healthy work-life balance.
- A strong sense of engagement in their work comes from flexible schedules and easy dialog with each other, especially with their bosses.
- A feeling of being appreciated and valued comes from helping in decision-making.
- A high degree of freedom to try new things and expand beyond their current role.
- A pleasant physical workspace with good relationships with colleagues.
- A diversity of responsibilities, such as training others, research, and policy development work.
- A mentor to talk to about their lives, career decisions and day-to-day jobs.
Also at work, here are the five keys to job happiness that Fortune magazine gleaned from various sources:
- A challenging role, being absorbed by difficult but doable tasks and projects,
- A sense of progress, accomplishing things that matter,
- A fear-free environment, without threats and punishment,
- Autonomy, being in control of one’s time and work, and
- Belonging, having real friends at work.
At home, here are some of the many things that Kathy Peel has learned about satisfaction and responsibility in the family:
- When loving, lasting relationships are your priority, other things seem to fall into place.
- The ultimate business of family life is creating an environment in which human beings love and serve one another so they can grow and flourish.
- A successful family doesn’t just happen. It results from a passionate commitment to shared values and from family members who invest their love, time and energy into helping each other discover and pursue their calling.
- Family is the sacred ground for training and passing on beliefs, values and traditions.
- Getting off track doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It just means you need to make some course corrections.
- Parents who communicate freely and negotiate priorities and personal preferences are better equipt to make decisions anytime.
- Everyone has a different tolerance level for dirt and disorder. To avoid disaster, negotiate specifications with each child before spelling out responsibilities (such as keeping one’s room neat).
- Everyone who lives under the roof of a home should contribute to its upkeep. This is not the job of one or two people.
- As soon as children are able to help around the house, they need regular chores. Routines make everyone’s life easier. Determining how, when, and by whom something should be done eliminates lots of frustration.
- The more you accumulate, the more you have to clean and maintain—and the more time it takes to do it.
- Shared meals are the learning center of family life. There’s something about sitting down and eating together that fosters communication and closeness.
- Teach your children what’s right and wrong, safe and dangerous in the world… before wrong or dangerous social forces provide answers you may not like.
- On the other hand, don’t spell out a child’s goals that go against the child’s basic nature (athletic excellence, high grades, a particular career…), because unrealistic goals lead to frustration.
- Children feel secure knowing Mom and Dad are committed to each other and that theirs is the most important relationship in the house.
- Money can destroy relationships, which are infinitely more valuable than money.
- Everything you have belongs to God and is a gift from God.
- Decide what you value in life, or face the chance of insecurity, discontentment, and the inability to enjoy the blessings you do have, especially when money is tight.
- A financial downturn is the opportunity to change spending routines that have gotten out of hand and focus on the truly important things of life: family, faith, and friends.
- Managing money is not about the money. It’s about how you view money.
- Don’t cover for your children when they behave irresponsibly with money or their belongings; this trains them to be irresponsible adults. Responsibility is like the measles: it’s less painful when you get it as a child.
- Traditions and common experiences cement a family. There’s something about being able to say, “This is the way our family always does it.”
- Accept the fact that calamity and confusion are often uninvited guests at celebrations. Food will burn, toilets will overflow, and your power may go out. But you can still make positive memories if you are able to laugh about mishaps and plans that go awry.
Fostering Satisfaction and Responsibility in an ITC Group
So… we can now gather up these rich seeds of experience and wisdom from business and family… essentially everything we need to know about fostering a sense of satisfaction and responsibility in human groups… and boil them all down into a powerful elixir, a few drops of which might give an ITC group direction and vitality.
Dipped from a nutshell, then…
An ITC group could have any number of important and clearly defined (not arbitrary) subgroups:
- Task forces,
- Special projects….
Some subgroups might be permanent parts of the ITC group (a finance committee or public relations committee, for example), others might be set up for short-term projects (for example, trying out a new ITC tool or technique).
Ideally, every operative and facilitator in the group would be an active part of at least one subgroup at all times. That way, each member has the opportunity to feel like an important part of the group… fine-tuning the group mission or exploring new experimental tools and techniques or figuring out the mysteries of multidimensional life or working on critical issues or otherwise making important decisions on behalf of the group.
Each member should follow the ancient aphorism, know thyself, and join subgroups accordingly. Knowing oneself (forging a conscious connection to the finer spirit within) can be accomplished by spending more time in a member’s personal workspace.
2. A Volunteer Mindset
The members, and the ITC group as a whole, are best off when working on the assumption that everything is done on a voluntary basis. Members are giving freely of their time, energy, talents, and knowledge… with the faith and confidence that everyone’s material needs are being taken care of, choreographed to some extent by finer spirit. Money, like ITC contacts, can come in abundance to a spiritual group only when there is peace, contentment, and harmony.
Group harmony is disrupted by members’ material longing or insecurity… over-reliance on a wealthy benefactor, craving for grants, desperation to sell things for profit… and members who feel such feelings should spend more time in their personal workspace.
So, operate as though your ITC group is entirely a volunteer organization. Then, if you receive funding, minimize its importance and use it sparingly and conservatively, with a plan and purpose. Manage money like Buffett, not Belshazzar. If there’s money, set up a finance committee whose members understand that managing money isn’t about the money, it’s about how they and the other members view money. If funding becomes a high priority for your ITC group, then you don’t control the money, it controls you.
Set up the ITC group with modern technologies that minimize expense (Internet, websites, chatrooms, emails, videoconferencing…), and simply know and trust that material needs will be taken care of.
Each member joins the group already in possession of the tools and techniques for ITC research and for group collaboration (laptops, cell phones, etc.) that he or she needs. If there is a genuine need for something new and better later on, trust that the means will be available when the needs arise.
Reliable, time-proven routines can help an ITC group to avoid re-inventing the wheel. The more that members can make it a routine matter of working in their personal workspaces and participating in their subgroups, the more smoothly the ITC group will operate… without having to stop and restart every time something new or troubling comes along.
4. A Supportive, Interactive Membership
There’s a steady undercurrent of trust, acceptance, love, sincerity, and honesty flowing through a healthy ITC group. If a member has questions or issues, there are plenty of ways to share ideas and to be heard… chatrooms, emails, reflective listening sessions with a facilitator….
If members make mistakes or bad choices, let them feel the weight of the responsibility while steering them toward their private workspace for reflection and refinement. If a member or the group as a whole gets off track, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It just means you need to make some course corrections.
5. A Sense of Humor
Our best laid plans sometimes go awry, and it’s usually best just to laugh about the failures (but not at someone’s expense), and then move on.
(Note: In the article above, section “2. A Volunteer Mindset” is being developed in stages. After posting the original article on Thursday, I woke up early Friday morning after a few hours of sleep with a nagging sense that there might be some flaws in my reasoning. For example, I wrote:
“Money, like ITC contacts, can come in abundance to a spiritual group only when there is peace, contentment, and harmony.”
So I woke up this morning with several questions in mind.
- First: If that were true, then Buddhist temples would be rolling in money, right? Peace, contentment, and harmony are cornerstones of Buddhist life, after all, and yet their temples are typically humble places, not extravagant places adorned by conspicuous wealth.
- Second: Peace, contentment, and harmony are not the formula for ITC contacts either (as my comment implies), according to our spirit friends, who told us that an ITC bridge also requires a certain innate psychospiritual aptitude that very few people possess.
- Third: How about an innate “abundance aptitude” that some “lucky” people have and other people don’t… the Midas touch… the money magnetism of people like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates? Some people find it fairly easy to write best-selling books or to patent inventions or to write software apps that make lots of money, while other people can make similar efforts and produce similar books and patents and apps… but realize no financial rewards whatsoever. I sometimes wonder if there’s a materialist karma or lifetime soul mission that allows certain individuals to revel in material abundance during a lifetime… perhaps to compensate for previous lifetimes of poverty or suffering or generosity… or maybe just to live the experience. If there is some sort of abundance aptitude, then maybe ITC researchers with money concerns could make it a point to recruit such a person into their ITC group.
So I’ll be thinking about these things in the coming days while fine-tuning that section of the article below. My plan is to preserve the original section and add notes to help clarify what really seems to be happening in the long-raging struggle between spirituality and material wealth, as it pertains to ITC groups.)