July 28, 2016
Most of us spend more time at the office than anywhere else. There is no activity we spend more time on than working (besides maybe sleeping) — meaning that during their careers, most people see more of their colleagues than of their partners, friends and children combined.
And yet, when we speak to clients on how to make the most out of their offsite, they invariably tell us that one of their most important goals for the team is to get to know each other better.
How can it be that people who spend so much time together still feel the need to go out to a remote location to get to know each other? The answer is simple: not the quantity of time spent together counts, but the quality of it. And that quality is usually much lower than it needs to be.
"not the quantity of time spent together counts, but the quality of it."
The harsh truth is that offices worldwide are ridden with people who are clueless to what is going on in the hearts and minds of their direct co-workers. What really matters to your co-worker? What are her hopes, her dreams, and her fears? What does she need, right now, to feel okay and have a good day? Most people haven’t got a clue, even if they’ve spent hundreds of hours talking to each other. Besides this dynamic being sad and unnecessary, we argue that it is amongst the biggest hurdles for organizational performance in today’s workplace.
"The harsh truth is that offices worldwide are ridden with people who are clueless to what is going on in the hearts and minds of their direct co-workers."
Teams whose members spend a considerable amount of time playing ‘hide and seek’ quickly become disconnected, disengaged and ultimately dysfunctional. They form a culture where ‘keeping up appearances’ becomes more important than getting good work done — driving fear of failure, perfectionism and ego-centric behaviour. Tensions build up, internal competition goes up, and cooperation and company goals move to the background.
Though some may argue that in some teams disconnection and internal competition may actually fuel performance (think of a sales team where its members work independently in different locations with hard sales-targets), the reality is that this dynamic is killing for 99% of the teams. In a time where innovation and networking matters more than ever before, knowing how to stay connected in a human way has become one of the most valuable workplace skills.
"Feeling connected to your fellow humans even makes you physically and psychologically healthier."
Studies show that connected teams outperform their competitors in all important areas: productivity, motivation, commitment, organizational citizenship, engagement, innovation and effectiveness. If you’ve ever worked in an engaged, well-connected team, you know this. If you’ve worked in a toxic, disconnected team, you know it too.
Feeling connected to your fellow humans even makes you physically and psychologically healthier. Studies show that your cognitive functions work better, it’s easier to learn new things, and your creativity and judgement in complex issues improves significantly.
It is no wonder the ‘no asshole rule’ has been making so much waves in organizations lately. Recruitment is briefed to ‘hire for attitude, and train for skill’, and queries new candidates for their ‘kindergarten skills’— the ability to share, care for others and work with others in a peaceful, energizing way.
Wondering how to create a surrounding where these kindergarten skills can flourish? Got inspired to create more connection in your workplace? Here's Hagar & Tom’s next insightful article ‘Five ways to create more connection in the workplace’.
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