Building a high-performance team is an ongoing process. Creating a team culture where every member is fully engaged and committed to producing the same result does not happen by accident. There are five essential elements that must be present in any team to unleash the talent and achieve its best goals.

Connection is one of those core elements – building a personal connection between members of the team, seeing each other as more than co-workers, but as people with individual tastes and interests.  A team experiences connection when all “members of the team care about each other as people, about the individual as well as collective success.”  It’s a seemingly obvious concept that is often undervalued.

If your team members do not seem completely engaged in the collective success of the team, examine whether the team members are truly connected.

Personal Connection IS Necessary

We’ve encountered skepticism about this element. Sometimes people feel sharing personal stories or discussing their private life is unprofessional. Others prefer not to discuss their private lives in the age of digital invasion. These are understandable views. Building personal connections even at a limited level will strengthen the team…even if the connection is as simple as knowing how someone prefers their tea.

It is the awareness of each other’s interests beyond the goals of the team that creates important workplace relationships. Good relationships mean successful and more pleasant collaboration. Personal connections make the debate that creates exceptional outcomes easier. When working together is more enjoyable, a team will accomplish more together. It may take time to be personally connected, but it is essential for a successful team.

A Simple Meeting or Conversation

Recently a client, Rob, shared his story about connection. He, like many of our clients, was a bit skeptical about whether personal connection was really necessary. He felt that business goals and professional interactions about the team goals were enough to maintain a strong team. He felt connected to most of his colleagues on his small team without consciously pursuing connection as an outcome. He shared robustly during virtual meetings, and was keen to share referrals and ideas to grow everyone’s business. After a new member joined, who Rob had yet to meet in person, he noticed that he was participating differently in the meetings. He was holding back a bit, and was keenly aware he wasn’t questioning, yet alone challenging, assertions by the new team member during the meetings. He found himself not fully listening to ideas and opinions of this new person with the same enthusiasm as he did before when listening to other team members.

Remembering that we had discussed connection as an essential element for a Level 8 Team, he arranged a trip to the home town of the new member. They met for dinner and learned more about each other. Since then, he reports better dialogue during the virtual meetings because Rob more comfortable and trusts the motivation and viewpoint of the new member more since they connected for dinner.

Another member of a global virtual team recalled how sharing a simple taxi ride  with a member of the team deepened their connection and willingness to reach out to each other. It was a simple chat, nothing especially deep and meaningful. Yet as he reflected back on the conversation during which they talked about their children, vacations and how they each logistically handled their business travel, he realized that one conversation resulted in more virtual conversations about the business. That one conversation created a personal connection that changed his behavior from hesitation to enthusiasm to collaborating with this person.

Creating Connection

There are many ways to build personal connection that don’t require a big investment of time or money. It can be as simple as sharing that morning cup of coffee, a taxi ride, or a meal together.

One bit of magic we see at team meetings is when the team gets out of the office and shares a meal together. There seems to be something special about sharing a meal together as a team. It doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor, just getting out of the work space leads to different conversations, lighter, yet deeper and meaningful at the same time. We’ve seen successful team dinners at private homes, at food trucks, and in casual restaurants as well as at more formal settings. We learn things about each other over unstructured conversations that we wouldn’t ordinarily learn.

At the team meal, make sure everyone is fully engaged. Place some guidelines about the meal. Request mobile phones and other personal connected devices don’t distract from the interaction. One popular idea is to have everyone place their cell phones face down on top of each other in the middle the table. The devices stay there until the end of the meal. A need for access to mobile devices might be shared before the meal and request that responses be made away from the table. Even reactions to the request to stay off devices for a few hours and the accompanying conversations will help members learn about each other.

On a new team or a team that seems to be low energy, consider building personal connections between members of the team.

There are quick ways during routine meetings to create personal connection.   Members of teams have been surprised to learn how much they have in common with each other. Exchanging quick information – as simple as home town – can create unexpected connection.  We’ve watched people react in pleasant surprise when they discover they were raised in the same town,

Get Connected with Level 8 Teams

Personal connection creates strong teams, contact us to get your team connected for success!