What if we told you that there is one secret ingredient that would dramatically improve your team’s performance, would eliminate hours of wasted time, and significantly reduce the energy spent on politics and drama? What if that ONE element required no advanced degrees or training, and could be added with simple steps that fit into your existing workflow. Would you do it?
As we read through the expanding body of research about high-performance teams, and participate in the collective conversation about the new world of work, we see that at the heart of keeping a team working well is CONNECTION.
When we work online, there tends to be a focus on efficiency and getting things done. Nobody wants to linger on Zoom longer than necessary, and the medium itself limits our capacities to connect. It’s harder to feel one another, our bodies and minds numb out from being static for so long, and spontaneous social chit-chat is clumsy.
Now, while remote work has its challenges, no doubt, we also risk over-romanticizing life in the office. While there are more opportunities for organic moments of contact and 'creative collisions' when physically inhabiting the same office space, it does not mean people are actually feeling connected.
What we mean by connection is a warmth and sense of shared humanity. It engenders fundamental goodwill and a sense of mutual reliance with the other person. Creating this kind of genuine, human-to-human connection requires attention and a safe space that invites vulnerability, honesty, creativity and laughter. At the end of our retreats, invariably someone says something to the effect of, “I thought we were doing OK, but now I feel so much more connected to you guys!”
We often hear that the concept of connection is relegated to the "soft skills" department, but the truth is that the sense of connection is vitally important for effective communication, learning, and producing results. As Adam Smiley Poswolsky describes in the Harvard Business Review, the challenge of employees feeling disconnected at work has enormous cost: "In the wake of the pandemic and the vast shift to flexible work from anywhere policies, 65% of workers say they feel less connected to their coworkers. Employee disconnection is one of the main drivers of voluntary turnover, with lonely employees costing U.S. companies up to $406 billion a year. Research by Cigna shows that lonely employees have a higher risk of turnover, lower productivity, more missed days at work, and lower quality of work."
Devi Cavitt Razo and Deepika Sheleff are co-founders of Aurum Leadership. They are also close friends who have dedicated their lives to creating powerful, honest, resilient relationships.