Change Works

Change works

The forgotten art of human connection

This past week Dina and I took part in a branding workshop.  It’s not that we don’t have a brand, or we don’t like our brand, we’re just always trying to find ways to keep things fresh–and create valuable content for our followers and the teams we work with.  We’d like our posts and marketing to feel like a warm loaf of bread coming straight out of the oven.  Comforting and satisfying.

But, to be honest, lately we’ve been feeling our content is more like the last stale crouton you find in the bottom of the box…

Since most of you are too polite to tell us 🙂 we decided to take our own advice and develop some awareness–about what we really wanted to say and how we wanted to say it.

We rolled up our sleeves and applied these key principles:

  • Zoom out
  • Gather feedback on yourselves
  • Be ready to shift to what your stakeholders are demanding of you, constantly
  • Look back every few months and gather key learnings (where did you do really well and where could you be doing better?)
  • What’s disconnected that needs connecting?

This approach mirrors the work we ask our clients to do within their teams. I mean, Dina and I, we're a team after all!

In short, take off the blinders, and get comfortable with changing course.

Ok, so back to our branding workshop:

“Marketing is about values. It’s a noisy and complicated world so we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us” - Steve Jobs

The first question our  workshop leader asked us was game changing:

“What matters most to you personally?”

Dina and I had exactly the same answer: Connecting with other humans.

And that’s when it hit us.

The thing we do best for the teams we work with is help them connect to one another.

Coaches promise high performance and productivity, improving systems and processes, better motivation and inspiration, and the list goes on. That’s what every leader wants for their team, right?  And our clients definitely get better at all of those things.

But that’s not where we start.

If you’re the leader of a team and you’re reading this…

The power that you’re looking for is in the human connections.

What’s so hard about that and why can’t teams just go on an “outing” and have some good old team building fun together?  Well the fact is, research shows, that the effects of team building disappear after just a few days.

Creating meaningful connections–and then building a sustainable framework to achieve goals based on them–is a long game.  But, everything worthwhile in life takes time.

And that’s what Collective Works has been all about since Day 1.

Here’s just one example:

One of the teams we worked with was composed of individuals that were the brightest and best talents in their field, but they couldn’t seem to deliver what their most important stakeholders were requiring from them.  So you’ve got all these brilliant minds in one place, but there’s a sense of inertia and no new ideas are being generated.

We’ve all been there, and there’s always a sneaky reason behind why this happens.

Sometimes, that reason is conflict within the team. Sometimes it’s toxic behavior, so people just shut down and stop wanting to collaborate–but not with this team. They all seemed to get along. In fact, we noticed they even greatly respected one another.

They seemed to agree on a purpose and vision for their team.  Tick the box on that one!

They just couldn’t get into action.

So we asked them a simple question:

“How well do you actually know each other on a personal level?”

Pretty much everyone started shaking heads to the affirmative, claiming that they all knew each other very well.

But one courageous team member (leave it to the minority voice to bring the most wisdom) said they felt that no one really knew them at all, and no one had taken the time to get to know them and because of this they didn’t feel safe to bring their voice into discussions.

In fact they didn't feel safe to bring their authentic self to the table. So what’s the point of inviting someone to a meeting if 99% of their wisdom is locked up for fear of being judged?

We asked ourselves, were others on the team perhaps feeling elements of this–but the culture was so “agreeable” they didn't even feel safe to admit that?

We scrapped the agenda we had planned for the day, and, instead, did some exercises on building trust and safety–by sharing personal stories, deep stories, like what were the highs and the lows of their lives?  What helped them achieve those moments they were so proud of, and what strengths did they use when the going got tough and they needed to buckle down and pull themselves out of the hard times?

People liked being asked about their stories.  We learned a lot about them; they learned a lot about each other; and we all learned more about how people deal with challenges in the most unique and creative ways.

Can you say: TURNING POINT?

There was what we’d call a “softening” of the atmosphere.

A sense people felt heard and acknowledged.

A permission to share thoughts.

No right or wrong answer.

Deep appreciation for one another and the struggles they each had gone through in life.

And…they were able to share their deepest hopes and dreams for their team, as well as the business at large.

You know what happens when people can see where they’re going?

Anything is possible.

Don’t underestimate the power of connection.

If you’d like to access an exercise you can do with any member of your team right away to build connection, download our FREE PDF on Three Easy Ways to Build Connection within Your Team.