Tuesday, July 9

Help Explore Rob's Observation about Teams

At the recent launch of my new book, HUM, I invited participants to raise questions they would like to see addressed by me and blog followers in the coming weeks.  One friend, Rob, wrote in a follow up email:

With the best team on which I ever had the privilege to serve, my biggest concern was that I would let my teammates down. There was an inherent understanding that everyone supported a common purpose, as well as each other. However, it seems that is becoming increasingly rare. It seems that over time we value organizations/teams/communities less and less.  The sense of common purpose, community, and mutual responsibility to each other seems to be eroding in favor of individual performance and accomplishment.  In our neighborhoods, we know our neighbors less than previous generations did.  In our professional careers, we move from company to company vs. established careers with a single company.  How do we instill that common purpose to make our organizations "hum" if some partners simply weren't raised in an environment that emphasized shared purpose (or at least not to the same extent as others)?

Boy, Rob, you identify a really deep issue. It does seem that our parents and grandparents lived in a world where relationships lasted a very long time, including those with employers.  My own grandfather was able to raise a family and retire comfortably after 50 years of service with Ford Motor Company. 

One of the reasons I felt driven to write HUM is because we no longer live in that world of long-term relationships in which loyalty and trust develop over time.  Although we still yearn for that feeling of connectivity, we find it missing in our work, social, and personal relationships.  Why should we be loyal to an employer who would let us go without a moment’s thought if they needed to, regardless of how well we had performed for them?  Why should we pick up the pile of mail from the steps of a vacationing neighbor when we don’t even know him?  The world around us discourages connectivity while we continue to naturally crave it. 

Look around your workplace and among those your business touches for “kindred spirits,” then find ways to build connections with and among these individuals.  We have to be intentional about building these connections, not counting on them to develop naturally over long periods of time.  In fact, isn't this why Friday happy hours were invented?

Ideally, trust and respect are modeled by the leaders of an organization or team, creating a connective culture. If that is not the case where you work, then build a support network of people with whom you can feel that sense of mutual trust and loyalty.  Not only will you feel better about your work, but your team’s performance will dramatically improve.

Let’s hear from others about Rob’s observation that organizations don’t inspire long-term loyalty.  What are your thoughts about how to increase connectivity in an increasingly disjunctive world?

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