Businesses wouldn’t exist without the beating souls of the individuals that comprise them. Imagine that for a moment, not just “employees", certainly not “headcount” but “beating souls”. There is a vibrancy and energy to this image.
Now think for a minute of your organisation. What is it doing to keep that vibrancy and energy alive? What are you doing? Especially in these strange times. Beating souls need connection that goes beyond ticking boxes.
So, how do you keep connection and camaraderie alive, even when everyone is remote? Here are a few ideas that I have either delivered in my work or seen work elsewhere:
1. Create deep conversation. Pleasantries unfortunately do very little to build meaningful relationships, if you want to truly connect to those around you, deeper conversations are necessary. However, people generally need to be encouraged to partake in this level of conversation as it’s not natural to many. Questions such as “who inspires you in your day to day life” or “what’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you” open up a higher level of intimacy. If you want to read further about this topic, I recommend clicking on this article: https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/banning-small-talk-from-your-conversations-makes-you-happier-says-science-ask-any-of-these-12-questions-for-a-change.html
2. Connect through a common purpose. A collective sense of shared purpose is considered the most important source of meaning in supportive work cultures. It makes us less self-centred; it makes us feel part of something bigger. Encourage meaningful conversations around purpose, whereby people are given ample opportunity to be able to identify their own sense of purpose in the collective cause.
3. Help people to give back. Related to point 2 but slightly different, is the sense of connection people feel in helping others. Whether this is organising a volunteering day, virtual fundraisers or lending their skills, feeling good is intrinsically linked to doing good and this can boost so much more than morale. This works particularly well within organisations when the cause is linked to the purpose.
4. Involve as many people as possible. With the clarity of purpose, inclusion in decision-making is a great way to build loyalty to your organisation whilst enabling natural connections through teams working together on something that is outside of their day-to-day role and that matters to the ‘bigger picture’. This point can also be related to one of the points above - involving people in capturing video footage or stories around your organisation’s purpose; or by creating a team of Values Champions who have to prototype ideas before they get released are just two of many ways we have seen work really effectively.
5. Have fun. Greater camaraderie = greater enjoyment. Allowing people to have the freedom to forge camaraderie around common interests and work challenges should always be encouraged where possible. In fact camaraderie is often found in spontaneous moments when people come together when the chips are down. Even in the current virtual world there are ample opportunities to inject fun into daily team catch-ups. Recently we raised our energy levels ahead of a Wednesday morning team meeting by all participating in a spot of virtual karaoke! We have also used Jamboards to ask fun questions in weekly catch-ups, such as “what is one thing most people don’t know about you?” - everyone pre-populates their answers and then we have to guess whose response is who’s.
I’d love to hear any other thoughts or ideas that you have around keeping connections alive.