Humanity is the foundation of all success and building blocks of our companies, organizations, teams, relationships, etc. I could go on and on but you get the point.
Have you ever wondered why change and feedback is taken with such stride and appreciation when the person truly likes and believes in you as their leader? Genuine human connection is the foundation for this trust to flourish. Humans have an innate desire to make the leaders they believe in and genuinely care for proud of their work, accomplishments and ideas.
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been sitting in my office and working on a project, busy as heck and just wanting to get sh*t done and an employee shows up at the door with a big grin. Yes, I’m not going to lie here, I definitely have had times I really wanted to pretend no one was there and get what was on my plate completed. But, no, how can you ignore that beautiful smile ready to explode and share their successes? Well if that sounds similar to your situation, know you’re not alone and no, you’re not a bad leader because those random thoughts run through your mind as long as you’re not acting on them and instead you’re making that person feel like the most important thing in your world at that moment.
The foundation of human connection is not as easy as it sounds, but it is something that if you get intentional with learning and understanding your people you too, can connect and have similar results.
Here are my top 3 suggestions for building human connections quickly:
Number one: Make it about them.
Sounds simple, right?
You would not believe the amount of times I sit with clients and it’s all about them, always. Sometimes people don’t even realize they do it.
As the leader or the one driving the conversation, be intentional with your approach and the questions and topics you ask about. That being said, you must be genuine and cannot come off like you just rehearsed this conversation for the past 2 weeks.
Ask how they are, what’s new, depending on their answer, show genuine interest in that topic, continue the light conversation until it feels like the right time to jump into business.
I promise, with practice this becomes a part of your daily interactions and it pays off! The trick is to constantly be striving to learn more about the team around you.
Number two: Be real.
Be real. Yes, real, genuine, authentic, whatever you want to call it.
Put your phone away, stop looking at your snazzy new iWatch every time it vibrates and for the love of all things holy, put the dang computer away.
You can only bring your true and genuine self to the conversation if you are fully engaged.
When I say engaged, I mean all attention on the task or conversation at hand, the immediate interaction that is physically right in front of you, over video or even on the phone. And yes, believe me people can hear you typing on the other end.
Stop with the BS. Now I am not saying don’t get behind the message that’s being rolled out from those above you or the changes coming, etc. What I’m saying is if the message or changes suck, let them know you know how difficult it may be and the challenges that may arise but you’re there for them. You’re going to help them every step of the way. Whatever you do, empathize with them. Be real with them. Stop sugar coating every freaking thing because I can assure you, those around you will completely lose disinterest in your fluff sandwich every time you speak.
Just be you. Be as transparent as possible and if the situation is great, celebrate, jump around, be you and on the flip side if the information is crap, call it like it is (without getting fired in the process, after all you are still representing a brand, department, or what have you).
Number three: Put those around you first.
And my third tip for building human connection that is genuine and lasts is put the people around you first. I don’t mean physically put them first or prioritize them at every given moment, no, I mean put them, their feelings, their personal things going on, their needs first before business. I know many of you are thinking, yea, ok easy for you to say. But really it is as simple as it sounds.
For example, your salaried manager gets a call that is less than stellar news and you can see all over them that they are not in the right headspace then approach them, ask them if there is anything you can do, offer them a break or heck, even the rest of the day off and do whatever it is you have to do to pull their weight so they don’t come back the following day drowning in back work.
We all have personal things that come up in our life but how you handle those from your team and how you respond to them asking for a favor, giving you a heads up about something, or even just telling you they need a day for some mental health can make or break your human connection with them. Let them have it. Let them know that you hear them, you care about them and you know the right thing for them is to take care of themselves.
I’m not sure when corporate America shifted to putting numbers and revenue first or wait, I’m not even sure that it was ever the opposite with people first but either way, it is time for us to lead with intent and purpose and keep our people and their wellbeing and needs front of mind. Celebrate the wins, get out of your head, the work will be there (I promise, it doesn’t just disappear) but your team needs you when they need you and it’s our job to give our all to them when needed. Lead fiercely not only for the results but for the wellbeing of those around you.
Keep on the fierce train ladies! Human connection pays off, always!