Where do you feel connected in your life? I assume you might say family, friends, or, if you are lucky, maybe even your work. Engagement is how much we care about someone or something, and connection is one of its elemental agents. The question leaders need to ask: How do I create a place where employees will care about their work, co-workers, and the organization?
Let’s go back to something you are already connected to personally… let’s look at friends as our case study and then see what lessons we might apply in the workplace.
As you think about your “friends,” let’s put them in the three buckets: acquaintances, friends, and Best Friend Forever (BFF). What’s the difference in these three groups? Maybe a lot – let’s focus on just three things…
Depth of knowledge – You know more about your BFF than friends and acquaintances.
Unstructured time together – You spend more non-programmed time with your BFF than you do the other two groups.
Discovered commonality – The more time you spend together, the more you “discover” about people. The more you have in common, the closer you are likely to become.
How might these attributes apply to helping people be more connected to their work, co-workers, and your organization? You can probably think of countless tactics to foster greater connection. Here are a few to consider.
How much do people know about your organization? History, place in your industry, values you want to drive daily behaviors, your vision for the future? You want people on your team to know these things and more. Some organizations begin this process in the interview process. Better to hire people who align with your values than to try to “fix them” after they are hired. If not in the interview, certainly in orientation you can tell the story of your company and brand.
Regarding time together, how often do you and other leaders talk with your people over the course of a typical week? Not a performance conversation – a human one! Do you encourage your teams to pursue genuine community as part of their regular routine? Unstructured time is available if we want to reclaim some of it; if we steward the opportunities thoughtfully, connections will strengthen.
Although we all know the power of diversity and want to celebrate it, you can fuel a sense of connection when you help people discover those things they have in common. Agreement on religion and politics may not be possible, and that’s okay; but do you like similar foods, movies, and books?
These examples are not the point – the point is connection matters and leaders can create more of it in your workplace. If you ask one of your employees to name a place where they feel genuine connection, wouldn’t it be great if they said, “My team at work!”
In my new book, Win the Heart, scheduled for release March 4th, I explore the four cornerstones of CARE. Connection is just the beginning. If you would like to pre-order the book, click here.