The following is a guest post by our friends at Saybrook University’s Organizational Systems Program (a 3p sponsor) – designed for students who want to understand the nature of organizations, collaborative practices, and transformative change.
Creating a sustainable workplace can be pretty easy to do if you’ve got a green team running the show.
Green team members aren’t outsiders you bring in to teach workers how to be eco-friendly. They’re actually members of your staff who learn about sustainable practices as a group so they can work together to develop strategies that will make your workplace a sustainable space.
Five ingredients and a little follow through’s all it takes to grow a grassroots green team, according to research.
1) It starts with involvement.
If you’re a business owner or manager, send an email to all of your staffers calling for volunteers to form a green team. Here’s the logic: Those who respond care about pitching in and getting involved; those who don’t, don’t. As a business owner or manager, you need to respect that choice. Management and marketing studies show that participation on a green team can’t be a have-to sort of thing. Forcing people to take part on a green team against their will hinders progress. Green teams are self-organized. The folks on the team don’t mind learning about sustainable practices on their own or know a little about them already and are happy to bring this knowledge to work. Those are the kind of people you want on the green team: people who know and care.
2) After your volunteers are in place, build collaboration.
Select a member who will serve as the team leader and ask the team to help you prioritize the list of changes you’d like to see in the workplace, like calculating how much replacing all the current light bulbs with LED lighting will cost. This effort will bring the team together in finding ways to help the office cut costs, reduce its carbon footprint, and establish daily sustainable practices.
3) Once the team bands together, the next step is to foster engagement with other office workers.
Members of the green team can take care of this. Pick two or three green team members, for example, and make them the green education team. Ask them to develop small workshops where they teach staffers sustainable practices applicable to both the workplace and home, like reducing paper use by printing on both sides of a page.
4) Keep involvement, collaboration, and engagement going by continually motivating your green team.
Meet with your green team often and offer them sound information and guidance regularly. If one of the team members needs to chat about a team concern, make time to meet with him or her. Let them know you care about the volunteer work they’re doing as much as they do.
5) The more you motivate your green team, the more you’ll empower them and give them the confidence they need to make sustainable initiatives a reality at your organization.
Aimee C. Juarez is a Ph.D. student in organizational systems at Saybrook University and is a regular contributor to Rethinking Complexity, a blog produced by students and faculty members of Saybrook’s organizational systems program. Read more of Aimee’s work at: www.rethinkingcomplexity.com.