I travel regularly for business and on each trip I am surrounded by hundreds of people. On the plane, in the aiport, at my destination. I love the anonymity, and yet I hate the anonymity. Travel has the ability to bring us close to others while remaining invisible, alone. All those people, yet no one to talk to. Connected yet disconnected.
I write about being 'connected yet disconnected' in my book Cultivate. The Power of Winning Relationships. With the introduction of technology we have the ability to connect with hundreds, thousands of people. Whether it's connections, friends, likes or tweets. Yet despite being so connected I continue to hear the same story
"I have [insert your own number] facebook friends, but I have no one I can turn to in an emergency."
It's not just social relationships that matter. It's the professional relationships as well. A recent study by the Association of Accounting Technicians of 2,000 employees reported that within the top 10 reasons for staying with a company, relationships appeared three times. Forget "location, location, location", the mantra should be "relationships, relationships, relationships."
Think about it for a moment (especially if you are involved in any sort of employee engagement project), people don't look forward to going into work because of thework, they look forward to going into work because of the people they work with. The relationships they have, the experience of being connected to someone and something.
Cultivating winning relationships is not just a business imperative, it's a personal imperative. You can't deliver your results through your own efforts, at least not in the long term, unless you're willing to risk stress and burnout.
Work is the biggest team sport any of us get to play. It's all about the connections, the relationships, not just to get stuff done, but to have fun, to inspire, create, innovate, to support customers and each other in delivering a powerful experience.
In my experience the successful companies; teams; individuals, those that don't just survive in the longer term, but thrive and grow, do so because they fdon't simply focus on the 'what' of their business. They also spend as much time and effort nurturing the 'how', the organizational culture, interpersonal relationships between individual employees and teams that transform results.
Here are three scenarios that prevent relationships from being formed, or strengthened
- The endless meetings where employee run from one to another. Where we get 'straight down to business' and don't take the time to learn about the people around the table. Their experiences, previous roles and things that we have in common. Nuggets of information that can bring us closer together, allow us to contribute at our best, to connect.
The next time you are hosting a meeting, take a few moments to allow people to learn about each other, their expertise, how they got to where they are today. I guarantee it will build connections that will ensure a more effective team.
- Eating Alone. I see this drama play out time and time again. You are leaving the office cafeteria with your tray of lunch. You pause and look around the room and don't see anyone you recognize. You return to your office/desk to eat alone.
Good News! This isn't junior high, you are allowed to sit with the cool kids – you are one of the cool kids otherwise you wouldn't be at your company. Next time I challenge you to pick a table and join them. Start a conversation. Build a connection.
- Passing like 'ships in the night.' I'm sure you've had it happen, you are walking and talking with a colleague. You pass someone in the corridor and say "hi". Your colleague asks "who was that?" and you hear yourself say "I don't know, we've walked past each other for months, we just say "hi"".
The next time you walk past a colleague at work and say "hello" don't just walk on by. You are not in the city anymore, you are both in the same company… take a moment to stop and find out how their day is going; how you can help in their success.
Connect, don't disconnect, it could make all the difference, for you and the people you work with.