Building Deeper Connections With...

In The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, Patrick Lencioni mentioned that two of the signs were important for every team member to understand if we want them to have a clear picture of how they can engage and why it matters. We’ve already hit on IRRELEVANCE and we’ll touch on something that ties to IMMEASURABILITY next time. For now though, let’s look at another piece of what we started digging into last time, ANONYMITY, which is the one Lencioni depends almost solely on the team member’s manager.

This idea of ANONYMITY has little to do with whether someone is known far and wide for what they do, on an athletic field or within our organization, it’s really about how much they’re appreciated for who they are! Last time we looked at how investing in our team members not only develops their skills and increases their technical ability, but it also sends a message that we see a level of potential IN THEM that makes the investment worthwhile - showing we value them. This second way of showing that value is less of a financial transaction and more of an emotional transaction…

A great way to solidify that “meaningful connection with” the team members we hope to earn engagement from is to work on making sure they know how much their presence matters to us personally and to the organization as a whole. As I mentioned previously, this will require intentional effort. 

In the decade or so that I led a safety initiative that required the involvement of several dozen volunteers to even have a shot at achieving what was expected, learning all I could about those who volunteered (as well as anyone I hoped to get to volunteer in the future) proved to be key. Eventually, I knew each of the 600+ people in the facility by name, I learned what most of them enjoyed in the few hours we weren’t in that building each week, and I got to know something about many of their families. The volunteers were certainly important to me, but everyone else we were doing that work for was just as important. And learning about them personally made that process more effective and more fulfilling. When I moved into a different role where I was responsible for hiring & firing, as well as for nearly any conversation that tied back to accountability, having those strong relationships bought me a lot of grace in what were often some really tough conversations.

If we really want to show our team members they matter in a way that just can’t be earned by simply throwing money at the issue, learning what they care about is a great starting point. As we build the foundation for a stronger relationship with them, we can communicate with them about the things that make them tick - and we can begin to do that in the way that they’ll most likely receive. Then whether the topic is the purpose of the organization, what we need to be doing right then and there, or how we need to correct an issue, we can craft our message to include what they care about most rather than just what we need from them at that time.

I won’t hash it all out here, but learning to recognize and understand communication styles is the simplest way I’ve ever found for becoming really effective at doing that! And once we’re speaking the language they best understand and connect with, we have the groundwork in place for what we’ll look at next time...

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