Connecting With Everyone On The Team
When I worked on my master’s degree at Pepperdine it was a 20/80 split of in-person and virtual learning. Online learning was relatively new and for the most part it had been terrible. Pepperdine applied a hybrid theory though of having the entire class of 35 come to Los Angeles for a 52-hour orientation to kick off the program.
While there instead of having a passive meet and greet, the faculty put all the students through a series of technological and teaming challenges. It created a situation that artificially formed unique bonds with strangers. It gave everyone a connection and sense of team before going into a virtual environment.
Years later, I’ve never seen my classmates again, but I keep in touch and consider many as close friends. It was a bonded experience that was nurtured virtually. The challenge today is the transition to a remote environment where people have never met before working virtually together.
People perform better when they feel special. This would lead you to believe that this is the quickest way managers raise performance. But it isn’t, why?
Managers seem to go out of the way to make people not feel special. The want them to know that they are replaceable. If they knew they were unique it could screw up the manager-follower power dynamic.
Try looking at this through an empathetic viewpoint though. Through your own eyes. If you felt that you were special at work, important, and irreplaceable you would be excited to go to work. You would you work harder to further satisfy your ego and to validate how special you are.
In terms of leadership, the pundits say to never associate employees in a similar dynamic as children. It comes across as insulting, but it is not intended to offend. However, there are strong similarities in behaviors, mannerisms, and interactions that carry between both worlds.
For example, children thrive on short bursts of truly undivided attention delivered consistently. Employees and teammates experience the same positive outcomes. With your team, can you achieve five connection points during the day with each member?
Here is the distraction example that holds true for employees and children. Have you ever spoken with your boss only to watch them play on their phone or be distracted by it? Are they distracted or disinterested? Either way their manager has proven the point that whatever is on their phone is more important that they are.
Google was the first company to gain notoriety of encouraging employees to bring their full self to work. To safely share who they are fully with their coworkers. This held onto a belief that bringing a level of comfort helps in the individual performing.
On the other side of the equation is the organization that focuses on stripping away individuality, the military provides a great example. It follows the belief that shame enforces social norms. For our ancestors it was necessary for social cohesion. However, we’ve advanced past that stage of mankind.
When you evaluate your office, base it on what type of organization you want to run. Do you want people to be comfortable with sharing who they are and being accepted for it? Yet, you also don’t want to grow an army of individuals that cannot work as a team? Your answer may lie somewhere in the middle.
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