Whenever we discuss culture, one of our key components is always a connection. Connection is a multiplier; it boosts all your best qualities, and it is the bond that keeps employees engaged in their jobs. It gives reason and purpose to why employees come to work.
When times get tough, the connection becomes especially important. Conflict, change, uncertainty, and all the other stressors have less power to break bonds when the connection is strong.
Retaining Your Winning Team Through Connection
We talked previously about identifying your winning team. Retaining your winning team is even more important. You selected these individuals because you assessed them thoroughly based on their attitude, performance, and promise of success. You are betting on them for the future, investing your time, resources, and emotional energy into developing them to their full capacity.
Your goal now is to make sure they understand their value and importance and that you secure their commitment in return. This is when your focus centers on connection. Employees must have some connection point that ties them to an organization through good and bad times.
The stronger your connection with your employees, the deeper their commitment becomes. They become more engaged in their jobs. Engagement increases performance – and happiness. And happy employees stay, in good times and in bad.
Points of Connection
Employees have to feel connected to their work in some way to do their best work. We’ve found that over their careers, employees need to be connected to at least one of four areas:
- Their boss
- The company/mission
- Their job/role / the work they do
- Their team
Generally, employees will connect to one of the above; sometimes, they’ll feel a connection to two or even three. But rarely to all of the above at the same time. And that’s okay; a manager’s job is to figure out the connection and meet the worker there. The goal for any manager should be to identify and strengthen connections whenever possible and foster multiple connection points, if possible.
What an employee connects to may be driven by personality. Many personality assessments divide people into task-focused or people-focused personalities. It’s easy to predict that a task-focused individual would be more likely to connect with the company or mission, the importance of their work, or the idea of competence and the quality of their work. They may not feel connected to the rest of their team (or even to their customers), but that’s not why they come to work. They come to work to get the job done.
On the other hand, people-focused employees care a lot about whom they’re working they’re working with and for wh. If they can’t get to know you, like you, or trust you, it doesn’t matter how important the work is or how good they are at it; they will eventually leave you.
Ask Your Employees to Rate Their Connection Points
Start the conversation about connection early. Ask your employee to rate the level of connection to their boss, role, company, and team on a scale of 1-3 (with three being the highest). Discuss what obstacles may exist to a deeper connection, or one at all, if they’ve rated something low or non-existent.
Keep in mind these are your winners – your A-Team. If they’re not connecting with a part of their job, it’s important to find out why. They may be introverts who don’t need much team interaction to feel needed and productive. It’s possible to love your work but not click with your immediate supervisor – they might succeed despite her rather than because of her.
You may not like what you hear. But you can’t fix what you don’t know about. Make it a priority to help your team members connect more deeply on multiple levels. Formulate a plan to remove barriers to connection and strengthen managerial relationships with these winners. Plant the roots as quickly and as deeply as possible to make your employee more likely to stay when circumstances change.
Be patient, persistent, and present to whatever is happening, even if it’s uncomfortable for you. Loyalty and connection are earned over time. The rewards are worth it. When times get tough, or another company tries to poach your superstars (and they will), you want your best employees to say:
No, thank you. I understand that you are offering a great opportunity, but what I have right here is really good, and I don’t want to take a chance on losing that.
Fourth Quarter Rally: Blog Series on Strategies for Winning During Confusing Times
Our current blog series, Fourth Quarter Rally: Winning During Confusing Times, will examine what is happening in the marketplace and how you capitalize on growth while preparing for a recession. We’ll be bringing you people strategies for both “Thrive” and “Survive” modes and ways to get back in touch with your core values and use them as guideposts for good times and not-so-good times.
We will also talk a little tough about the realities ahead because success is a good deodorant. When things get tough, you will soon know if there is anything rotten that needs to be addressed. Our advice is to do those assessments now while things are good. Take advantage of the fourth quarter to continue to win while ensuring your team is the right one with the right talent to play the game well when times get harder.
About the Author:
Rich Thompson, CEO of XPG Recruit, is an expert on staffing, human resources, training and leadership development. He is also a former All-Big Ten football player for the University of Wisconsin. XPG Recruit provides recruiting for staffing companies. The XPG Recruit Athlete division places former athletes into business careers and works closely with universities through its sister company, Podium X.