(This post originally appeared on Lead Change Group August 24, 2015)
Have you ever noticed how people tend to herd into groups and stay in those groups?
Do you notice that most people “seek their own” in your organization and stay in those comfortable groups?
Have you ever been frustrated that your people don’t seem to cross the aisle, or the building, and readily build relationships among each other?
Getting your folks integrated with each other is a challenge for most leaders. However, it’s a vital skill that you can easily hone to create a more engaged community within your own organization.
Engagement isn’t just defined by employees being engaged with the company’s leaders. Engagement is at its best when employees across all departments and teams work together and create a synergy that perpetuates the organization’s culture and values.
As a leader, you play a key role in jump-starting the process of connecting your people. Here are five great approaches to creating a culture of connection in your organization:
- Have A Host Mindset – When you host a gathering at your home, it is natural to introduce new people to each other and grow new friendships. It’s similar in the workplace. By being a host, or the term I use, connector, you can forge new work relationships that will build a deeper team and create more working partnerships within the overall organization.
- Get Others Talking Among Themselves – Beyond connecting people, it is necessary at times to instigate dialogue in order to get people to fully connect. One way is to start conversations then fade away as the parties start to relate. This area is a guilty pleasure of mine, because fading into the background as two people connect is a thrilling part of leadership and team building. Do this and watch with amazement at what happens.
- Cross Over Teams With Projects In Ways They Otherwise Would Not Connect – Sometimes we get so routine oriented that we silo projects within one team, thus isolating the teams by our own design. Think of how a project can benefit from other people’s input, or how they can develop through the project. Fold them into the other teams to create a big picture awareness of the organization and a mutual vision of what the company is working towards.
- Build Training Around Interdisciplinary Groups To Build Teamwork – I conducted food safety kitchen training for healthcare organizations before realizing they were not the only ones involved in the food chain. I opened this up to the nursing and direct care staff, then realized that the entire organization could benefit from these courses. Food safety in the home is important too. What resulted was a popular class because it was one of the only times the organization was able to meet and work together. By finding applications in training for the entire team, you can build their awareness, and appreciation, for what their colleagues do and create better understanding to processes. People will be more willing to resolve any issues if they know what is involved. You can also invite other departments to team meetings each time to build bridges as well.
- Feature A Different Team Regularly In Your Organization – Is everyone aware of the rides maintenance crew in a theme park? How about the housekeeping staff at an assisted living facility? Do your people realize there are some dedicated employees in the accounting department? Or that an employee – a young college student – just won an academic award? Use your company’s newsletters, intranet, quarterly meetings, and company bulletin boards to promote teams and individuals across the workplace and gain an appreciation for the people behind the faces.
Imagine the incredible opportunities you have to build culture, engagement, and an enjoyable workplace if you connect your people to each other. These points are just a starting block, the rest is up to you to pursue.