The value of connecting with people seems tremendously undervalued and regularly misunderstood these days.
As leaders, investing time to connect with team members and customers can lead to:
– an unfiltered view of what’s working and not working in the organization;
– a reality check on how well your vision is understood and embraced;
– a greater level of trust…that can pay off when you need people to trust you on a big change or stretch goal;
– the discovery of great ideas and initiatives that deserve your support.
As with pretty much everything we discuss here, you must be intentional about this. How?
Make the investment of time with team members and customers a priority. Make sure your schedule includes at least 1 to 2 hours each week dedicated to connecting with team members or clients. Now is not the time for solving a problem or working on a project. It is time for connecting.
Think about what you want to accomplish with this investment of time. If you want to kick around ideas, then schedule time in the morning and keep the group small. Looking for feedback about what’s working and what isn’t…schedule time in the afternoon.
Understand that people may feel uneasy about this. Until it’s clear that the culture (and you) truly value open and honest communication, you’re going to have to work at it. Encourage people to speak openly. Come prepared with some examples of things that make it clear you are listening and that you care.
Respond with interest. Ask questions to get a deeper understanding. Ask for their thoughts on the best way to move forward.
Leave them feeling heard and appreciated. A quick summary of what you’re taking away from your time together demonstrates that you listened and will use the information you received.
If you are not already doing this, I’m sure it’s hard to think about fitting one more thing into your busy schedule. Trust me; it’s worth it.
There is so much more to gain from spending an hour to build stronger connections with your team and your customers…than spending another hour reading and responding to email.
I would love to hear more ideas about how to build strong connections with your team and customers?