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We recently interviewed Dr. Paul Mok, Founder of Training Associates Press and the developer of CST “ Communicating Styles Technology about what managers should be thinking when they’re struggling with the multiple pressures of recession.

TA: Have you noticed that more companies are cutting costs lately, especially those associated with team-building and training?

Dr. Mok: Yes. I think it’s a tempting and understandable response to recessionary pressures but unfortunately it’s the wrong way to go.

TA: Wrong? Why?

Dr. Mok: Typically it’s a short range, myopic response. Managers take their eyes off the prize.

TA: And the prize is?

Dr. Mok: Consistent, excellent execution. Self-initiated accomplishment. A climate of honesty and openness. An ability to see and prepare for long-range circumstances. Good spirit de corps. These behaviors won’t occur during a time of cutbacks and high anxiety.

TA: You seem to be suggesting that top management needs to adopt a philosophy of investment.

Dr. Mok: Yes, and one of commitment. Your staff needs to know that they are valued and supported.

TA: What can a manager do to ensure such knowledge?

Dr. Mok: One major strategy is team-building…facilitated by a professional. This can make a big difference in staff attitudes and behavior.

TA: I guess you don’t advocate the homespun, do-it-yourself approach then?

Dr. Mok: No, I don’t. Unfortunately I’m aware of many such efforts that backfired. Management was well intended but lacked how-to skills. Participants showed up angry and stressed and started unloading and attacking each other.

TA: Sounds more like team destruction than team-building.

Dr, Mok: Exactly. A competent team-building professional sets important ground rules and structures dialogue that involves increased self-awareness, appreciation of individual differences within the group and work assignments that leverage natural talents.

TA: May I add that TA Press can provide a number of effective low-cost materials for use in such team-building endeavors?

Dr. Mok: Thought you’d never mention it.

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