Blog #7 – Connection
So, would it be a fair assumption that before March 2020, you felt you knew your colleagues pretty well? Certainly, in the normal professional context and to varying degrees, on a close, if not very close, personal level. Could you gauge their body language and voice intonation in the room fairly instinctively? How about the depth of relationship comfort you had with your organisation, its strategy, direction and culture? Unless you had recently started a new role, I suspect the answer to most of those questions was positive and affirmative.
How has that evolved in the last two and a half months? For starters, I expect that if you weren’t before, you are now far more familiar with colleagues’ kitchens / sitting rooms / home offices / spare bedrooms than you ever had been, due to the escalation of working from home video calls. Your interactions and connection will have had to adjust significantly. Most likely, these new features of communicating will have to continue and embed for some time to come, as we strive towards ever greater effectiveness amidst continued remote working and distancing. In my other core field of executive search, it is fascinating to see how building connections via video interview processes and people starting new positions ‘remotely’ is developing.
Whether it’s building new connections, or optimising current ones, assessing the state of ‘Connection’, set by leadership, experienced by teams, and in driving performance, is the fifth of the six key components of the Performance Climate System measurement. Here’s how we look at it.
Connection: the team’s approach to its network of relationships
A high performing team will have a strong bond with everyone collaborating to achieve results. The connection team members feel toward their colleagues and to the purpose and goals of the team is critical to motivation and this segment measures that connection or glue. Team members may create a strong identity or brand in order to demonstrate pride. They will also feel rewarded and recognised. This is much more than financial; being about individual value and pride in their achievements.
Performance Climate System explores ‘Connection’ in three focus areas:
Connection (in itself): PCS looks at the extent to which team members feel allied to each other and associated with the team’s vision and goals. Connection is the glue which keeps the team together. It is critical to look at how people understand and interact with the work of the team and that of other colleagues. Trust always has to be there, so it should be measured. What could be getting in the way of close and strong relationships and how can the team improve relationships and levels of trust? We test how the team defines the ‘glue’ that binds them together and PCS assesses which areas could be improved quickest and with least effort. Looking forwards, where connection is already good, PCS helps leaders and teams optimise and sustain relationships and build on existing trust, whilst feeding thoughts about how the leader and the wider organisation can create an ever-greater sense of connection.
Pride & Identity: This we define as the existence of satisfaction in how the team operates and the collective brand of the team. PCS considers factors such as: Does the team have a clear identity and purpose that everyone buys into? How is the team and organisation viewed internally and externally? Is there a sense of ‘group’ or ‘team’ identity? How identifiable is the team brand and how does the team communicate and celebrate its brand and identity?
Reward & Recognition: Here, we are thinking about the acknowledgment of successes and completion of work. Likely very obvious things to most people, we consider: are (relevant) processes in place to reward and recognise good performance? Is reward and recognition perceived and valued as non-financial as well as financial? Does the team take time to identify and celebrate success? Are incentives and rewards appropriate to the activity of the team? Is the leader comfortable giving praise and ‘calling out’ good performance? Is reward and recognition a shared experience in the team? Equally, does the team seek external (and senior) recognition for success in the team?
Everyone, I suspect, will have given much personal thought to connection in its different forms during the Coronavirus pandemic. But those professional angles we have discussed here today will also have been – and remain – relevant. I anticipate that Spring 2020 will turn out to be only the early months of how we will all continue to adapt our connection with our teams, our colleagues and our wider stakeholders in the future.
Next time we will move on to the final building block of the Performance Climate System. Another major factor for all of us in ‘these times’ – Resilience.
Toby Ellison, June 2020