Connection Unlocks Employee Productivity
As a leader, cultivating strong connections on your team or across your organization should be one of your highest priorities. Research shows that people who work in organizations that develop a culture of connection are more efficient and productive. This is because these organizations encourage and support social coordination and cooperation – in other words, they’re more collaborative.
But connection and collaboration typically don’t happen organically in most organizations. It’s incumbent on leaders to set the tone and model prosocial behavior so it flows through the organization and becomes not only the norm but also the expectation.
But there are roadblocks in a post-pandemic world:
Many employees are spending more time out of the office making social interaction and collaboration difficult.
Employee satisfaction is at historically low levels (only 20% of employees report being extremely satisfied at work over the last two years after many years of hovering around 27%).
We’re living during a time of increasing polarization and distrust.
So, What’s The Leadership Opportunity?
At the Individual Level
Whether you’re a C-level, department head, or project team lead, here are three things you can do to cultivate a culture of connection and collaboration with individual members of your team:
Take initiative/be courageous – don’t wait for others to come up to you and start talking – in most cases, they’re probably waiting for you to talk to them first and may be too nervous to initiate a conversation.
Show sincere interest and be inquisitive by asking who, what, when, and how questions.
Practice active listening – be present, make eye contact, and listen to understand rather than to respond.
At the Team or Organizational Level
A lack of financial incentives is the biggest barrier to cultivating a culture of connection since most talent management systems are designed to reward individual achievement, not team accomplishments. As a leader, there are three things you can do beyond financial rewards to create a spirit of community and collaboration:
Create a collaboration Pygmalion effect by setting high expectations for team coordination and performance.
Publicly celebrate team accomplishments – celebrating exceptional team performance reinforces a sense of camaraderie and mission which is critical to motivating people and teams.
Cultivate supportive relationships – people are social animals; when social connections are strong, there’s more trust and fellowship, leading to more cohesive and productive teams.
Start by implementing one or two of these approaches and see what results you get. Then, strive to make these practices a standard feature of your leadership repertoire to maintain healthy levels of team engagement, satisfaction, and productivity.