“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
― Brené Brown
The biggest key in creating connection on your team is communication. Now before everyone tells me that this is too obvious, let me define what I mean by connecting through communication.
Communication is the sum total of the effort you make as a leader to be sure your team knows what you expect from them, what their role is, how that fits in with the company objectives and how well they are meeting those objectives. However, it also includes things like honesty, openness, and transparency.
Openness & Honesty
If you want your staff to truly be connected, you must show them how what they are doing drives the progress of the company. You must also, as far as possible, hold them accountable for their work (honesty) and keep your team informed of things that may impact them and the work they do (openness).
This last issue almost exclusively lies at the core of where staff and leadership struggle for unity. Often what happens is that openness erodes either as leaders become busy and distracted or as silos begin to form within a company. In the first instance, openness erodes by omission in the second by commission - that is, deliberate withholding of information necessary to be productive.
"I just want to be treated like a mushroom at work; kept in the dark and fed B.S.," said no one ever! This statement is most often the biggest complaint I get when working with new groups. I was brought into a company where one of the issues was the management wanted staff to provide more detail and information on daily reports. In an initial discussion with staff about what they felt should be on the daily log, they were in complete alignment with management? It seems that no one had told them what they wanted!
The Destructive Impact of Silos and Secrets
This goes beyond the simple issue of managers being too busy to be open. Silos (or as I call them - secret societies) do more to create disconnection than anything else I know of. It could be the leadership team or the one department that holds vital information to itself or even where a team keeps information from one of its members regarding their performance or status with the team. Secrets are divisive by nature and inhibit connection. Someone is outside the "circle," and others are in it.
I am not saying that openness requires full disclosure of all things, but certainly, it should include how folks are doing or what things are happening further up or down the line that could or will have an impact on them.
A newspaper in the U.S. asked readers to send in statements regarding why they loved the company they worked for. Almost universally, they involved issues around connection and meaning. To quote one individual, "Leadership is excellent - always transparent and willing to give you the details on decisions being made in the company or being discussed." Open, transparent, and relevant communication, one key to connection. Performance Leadership - Think About It!