Teams who feel connected perform better
You’re a high-performing leader. You have a well-performing team, but you want more from them; action, results, momentum, success. They’re good, but the sum of their work isn’t greater than that of the individuals. So, how do you get more from your team?
You may feel like you don’t have time to focus on building social connections within your team – you’re trying to build a team that works hard and delivers, after all – but I’m here to tell you, your team will achieve much more together, the more they know and like each other.
Sound like an overwhelming, time-consuming (or wasting), or expensive undertaking? It doesn’t have to be any of those things. Doing small things every day is the best way to build connections. You’ll be happy you did.
– Prioritize authenticity above all. Individuals will contribute their all and their best when they feel safe to be themselves. Being unafraid of negative feedback when being one’s true self and offering one’s true thoughts, beliefs, and ideas is rare, and it’s also how the best teams operate. As a leader, it’s up to you to lead the way. So, go first. Offer out-of-the-box thinking; ask your team to poke holes in it. Celebrate and reward those who do. Then ask them to do the same.
– Create opportunities to connect on non-work stuff. The best teams can be the best when they aren’t solely focused on all work all the time. They take mental breaks to share and connect over things that have nothing to do with work. Shared interests can bring humans together like nothing else. And learning something new from colleagues can give us new appreciation and insight for them. This type of non-work connection creates stronger relationships, which leads to better teamwork.
– Tell them you care, and mean it. Tell them you value who they are and what they do. Expressed appreciation is very motivating – even more so than monetary rewards. As a leader, again, go first – show your appreciation, and ask for it from your team members too. Peer recognition can go a very long way to creating those strong relationships that yield excellent teamwork and results.
Do this today: Spend 5 minutes planning for an intentional connection opportunity tomorrow. If it feels unnatural, start small. When you arrive at work tomorrow, stop by a few people’s offices and check in – how was their night? Did their kid make the (insert sport) team they wanted? Have they watched any shows or listened to any podcasts they’d recommend? This last one is a great example of asking for help. People love being asked for their opinion and it gives you something to talk about well into the future.
Have a team meeting this week? Plan to ask everyone to contribute some ideas to the upcoming holiday party, or the new project you’re all working on together. Tell them you’re struggling to figure something out and ask for their help. Or tell them your ideas and ask them to poke holes in it … and this is absolutely critical… thank them for their feedback!
Start building a culture of connection and your team will respond with their all and their best.