Missed Connection: You were trying to share your perspective, but I wasn’t able to fully grasp your meaning. There just seemed to be a gap in our way – would love to reconnect.
Sound familiar? If you’re ready to connect with your employees on a whole new level, this blog is for you. At our recent #CONN3CT Virtual Conference, we were privileged to have Nancy McKay of McKay CEO Forums join us to share some knowledge around reducing the communication gap by leading with transparency and authenticity.
What needs to change so that we can all become much more closely connected? Read on to explore the answer to this question and the main learnings from the session. Also, feel free to watch the recording at your convenience and tap into more ideas, tips, and suggestions that can inspire you and your team.
1. View Vulnerability as a leadership strength, not a weakness.
When you ask someone what they see as the core strengths a leader needs to have today, it’s common to hear words like vision, integrity, delegation, courage, confidence, or strength. The list of adjectives that describes a great leader can be lengthy! But one word you probably won’t hear in their response is ‘vulnerable.’
For many, vulnerability can be seen as a huge weakness, not a core strength. However, leaders who proactively and intentionally display vulnerability create opportunities to have meaningful conversations that build authentic relationships. Being vulnerable shows humanity, makes it easier for others to connect, and shows you are willing to treat others as human beings.
Workplace from Meta provides leaders the opportunity to display vulnerability in many ways. Leaders can Go Live and talk about something that’s near and dear to their hearts. They can use their News Feed to post links to articles that strike a chord with them or to draw attention to a cause that is close to the chest. Or, simply, to express an opinion, share a thought, or share a moment of weakness.
As Nancy says, “It’s not all rainbows and puppies, and as CEOs, we have our doubts and self-doubts. We all have challenges and struggles, so why don’t we find ways to support each other and have those real conversations? That’s what vulnerability is all about.”
2. Build trust and value in the community by using business as a force for good.
How can you hold your organization accountable for upholding the highest standards of transparency and accountability? Become a certified beneficial company!
Nancy MacKay from MacKay CEO Forums spoke about the importance of organizations being the change they want to see in the world by taking a stand on prevalent issues. As a B Corp organization, MacKay CEO Forums proudly and openly combats discrimination, racism, sexism, and elitism in the workplace.
The B Corp Certification recognizes the overall positive impact that an organization has on employees, the community, and the environment. Taking this important step means that leaders in your organization can get more comfortable with being uncomfortable, express their willingness to learn, and open the door to having judgment-free conversations.
Workplace from Meta Groups can be used to create safe spaces where employees can share their experiences and ideas, and have great conversations that help educate, empower, and challenge each other to be that change for good that Nancy mentioned. At LineZero, we’ve set up a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Group that helps us to openly discuss and learn about DEIB in the workplace – it’s a safe space where we can share articles and books of interest, personal stories, and more, and has allowed for us to open the floor to difficult conversations we might not have had in the past.
3. Welcome a diversity of perspectives.
Do you consider and encourage different perspectives in your organization? How you approach open and inclusive conversation can significantly impact collaboration, morale, and productivity within your organization. So, it’s important to address this question.
To create a positive, safe space, employees need to feel comfortable asking for and accepting feedback. Does your organization provide that for them? By catering the language you use to be more inclusive, no matter how subtle, you can create a culture of belonging.
Where do you start? Empathy and respect go a long way. When we can put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and see something from their perspective, we can be closer to understanding their experience.
As Nancy says, “We all have different perspectives. A big part of how we can just make this world a more inspiring world is step into each other’s shoes before we take action; before we say anything.”
4. Adopt an empathetic leadership style.
Empathy is a powerful tool; the capacity to understand or feel what someone else feels, or what someone else is experiencing. To be able to put yourself in their position and understand where they’re coming from. Empathy can go a long way in clearing up a communication jam, and it can help to quell anger and frustration in a healthy way.
The flip side of the coin, however, is that being too empathetic can lead to other challenges. Like making decisions based on feeling rather than fact, or finding yourself pulled down into the other person’s negativity and suffering. So, being an empathetic leader is about finding that fine balance between being empathetic and being pragmatic.
To be an empathetic leader, you need to set healthy boundaries for yourself, and ensure that you stay in a positive emotional state while trying to help your employees. Setting up 1:1 Groups within Workplace can help you do both – when used properly, it can give your employee a safe space to vent their frustrations, while also allowing you to set boundaries.
5. Manage burn-out.
The World Health Organization included burn-out in their 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), and defined it as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”, characterized by energy depletion or exhaustion, cynicism and detachment (mental distance) from one’s job, and reduced professional productivity.
With the challenges of COVID-19, burn-out is affecting more people than ever. Whether it’s the exhausting side effects of constant video calls, the pressures of our work and home life seeping into one another, the rise of anxiety and depression from social isolation, grief, or trauma, or other factors, burn-out is affecting every single person in your organization.
Managing burn-out is another way to building a strong culture of connection within your organization. Are you providing a safe environment where employees can communicate their concerns and share their challenges? Are you encouraging your employees to take their vacation days and, more important, are you leading by example on that front? Are you doing your best to encourage that you and your employees dial up the self-care practices to take better care of mental health and wellness?
One way that Eric Sugar, LineZero’s President is trying to combat burn-out is to do “walking calls” for some of his meetings. He encourages the person he’s meeting with to participate in a walk – wherever they are – taking the call from a cell phone, rather than from in front of the computer. “Let’s pick up a cell phone, let’s go for a walk, let’s talk, and let’s have nature be a part of that conversation - movement and fresh air.”
6. Build rapid connectivity with a new hire.
The last way that organizations can build strong connections and culture is to engage with those who are just starting out their journey with you.
This serves several purposes, most obvious being you make your new hire feel welcome and show them that your corporate culture embraces who they are and what they can bring to your team. By doing this, you cultivate loyalty, job satisfaction, happiness, and engagement from that new hire.
But how do you go about building this rapid connectivity? Nancy and Eric, in their discussion, introduce the concept of “speed dates” – 20 minutes or less to deep-dive into a conversation that focuses on them. As Nancy explains, “it’s awkward at first because you’re used to just bumping into people and having conversations. But you can go really deep and have great connections in 20 minutes or less.”
Workplace from Meta is the perfect way to facilitate these conversations, especially with most people working remotely. At LineZero, for example, we’ve implemented a “Coffee Chat” bot that finds time for people in the organization to connect and chat with each other. This bot sends a message in Workplace Chat asking for availability on a specific date and time. If someone selects “yes” to indicate they are available, the bot matches that person with others who also selected “yes”. The bot then books the meeting and sends a calendar request with instructions on how to join the call.
Ready to Build a Strong Connection with Workplace?
If your organization is already using Workplace and you want more information on how you can use it to build strong connections and culture within your organization, LineZero is here to help! We will be happy to chat with you and help you create a strategy around utilizing Workplace to enhance your corporate culture.
Not Using Workplace Yet?
If you’re not yet familiar with the benefits of Workplace from Meta, let’s jump on a call for a brainstorming session! We’ll not only help understand how Workplace can help you build a more inclusive and exciting corporate culture where connection is encouraged, but we’ll also show you visual blueprint of how your existing technologies and Workplace from Meta can integrate to form a seamless experience! Our unique experience allows us to help you close the gap between your business goals and objectives and your technology capabilities – give us a shout today!