If you are seeking to develop a Connection Culture in your workplace, then you need to not only proactively take actions that build connection, but also avoid actions that destroy it. Sometimes, we have blind spots that make it difficult to identify “connection killer” habits.
The image of trees being whipped back and forth during a storm is an appropriate analogy for humans weathering especially stressful seasons in life. It was on my mind as I followed the coverage of Hurricane Ian and the destruction it left in its wake at the same time I was reading new research that came out on rising burnout among physicians. I thought of how those in healthcare have been battered by a fierce hurricane called the Covid-19 pandemic. They faced a powerful and unpredictable foe, one that shifted and adapted as it went along, one that was fatal to some it encountered and left others unscathed. Shaken and tested by what must have felt like an unrelenting storm in the first year, some in healthcare were able to persevere and remain standing strong and some fell. Still others are upright, but for how much longer?
An opportunity exists for leaders and organizations to gain a performance and competitive advantage if they can win the war for talent. A recent conversation I had with Jon Clifton, CEO of The Gallup Organization, reinforced my long-held position that the x-factor in talent acquisition, employee engagement, and employee retention is connection. Fostering an environment in which workers feel connected to the organization, their supervisor, their colleagues, and the work they are doing will enable those organizations to pull further ahead of organizations that lack great jobs.
Campbell Soup Company was not in good shape when Doug Conant was named President and CEO in 2001. Sales were declining. The stock price was falling and it was underperforming the S&P 500. I’ve long held that it takes a commitment to pursuing both task excellence and relationship excellence in order to achieve sustainable superior performance. Pushing the task side alone won’t do it and will cause more harm. Brought in to effect a turnaround, Conant knew it would be essential for leaders across the organization to combine the two elements. He told leaders, “When you are both tough-minded [on issues] and tender-hearted [toward people], you can deliver ever-higher levels of performance.” People at Campbell’s would come to realize that he was serious about the relationship side of the equation.
Emotions are contagious. For that reason, you need to pay attention to your own emotions and those of the people around you.
At work, how would you characterize the emotional state of your team? If you were to think of it as a river, is the quality of the water life-giving and invigorating, or some level of toxic? Is the water current robust or more of a trickle?
Negative emotions in the workplace have been rising for years. Are they holding back your team’s performance?
That’s the topic I’ll be discussing at the ATD22 International Conference & EXPO. Join me to learn how to cultivate a work culture with attitudes, language, and behaviors that boost positive emotions and spur higher levels of performance.
Do the people around you know that you are for them? Do they know whether you care about them, want them to be able to do their individual best, and will advocate for them? Having this assurance promotes a feeling of connection. It goes a long way in establishing trust and an environment of psychological safety. But if they don’t know with certainty that you are for them, they may feel you are indifferent to them (which is disconnecting) or assume, rightly or wrongly, that you are against them (which is very disconnecting).
At a time when many employers are struggling to retain workers, it is critical to understand the role that emotional compensation plays in an employee’s decision to stay or leave. I am looking forward to sharing insights to help human resource professionals increase employee retention during an upcoming virtual event hosted by the Anchorage Society for Human Resource Management.