connecting with people at work: easy as rock & roll

By in Culture and Engagement
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Arguably the most influential band in the world is The Beatles, who shattered records (five songs in the top 10 at once) and changed music forever. From U2 to James Taylor to Foo Fighters’ David Grohl, music legends have cited The Beatles as the influence that inspired them to write music.

Another trait that made them a hit was their connection with people. Teeny-bopper fans to crusty reporters were charmed and disarmed. It’s as if the Beatles were comfortable with who they were to such a degree, they let their personalities shine and connect over and again with their audiences.

Quickly their fame spread worldwide but the Beatles never forgot the value of the people around them — those who essentially made them famous and rich. (On a personal note, I ran into Beatles drummer Ringo Starr at a New York record store where I waved at him like a fool as he was standing in an elevator with his band. Ringo looked at me curiously and flashed his famous peace sign back. Classy.)

What’s the lesson to us in our corporate world? How can four moptops from Liverpool have any remote value to us in our offices? A dozen different lessons come to mind, but an obvious tie from their experience is to connect with your audience.

If your workplace is filled with machines, then hug a computer. Care for it. Clean it. Maintain it. Ensure it’s running at optimum capacity to maximize your investment.

If, however, your office is also filled with people, then that is of value to your organization also (otherwise, why would they be there?). If they are valuable, then it’s logical to do what is necessary to maximize your investment with them.

However, for some managers, showing care to people doesn’t come naturally. In fact, it can be a struggle for some leaders. Regardless, here are simple tips to connect with them.

  1. Ask how their weekend was. When you see them at the start of the workday, take a minute for the human side. It doesn’t have to drag on for several minutes (in fact, that could send the wrong message), but asking how their recent off time was shows them you have interest in them as a person and reminds you, the leader, that they are a person with a life, too.
  2. Listen to them. That means eye contact and distraction-free listening, just for a minute or two.
  3. Share a bit about your outside-of-work life (again, it’s about connections).
  4. Help those you lead to improve. Observe. Praise, Critique. Encourage. Observe. Praise again.
  5. Give them balance. This shows you care. Invariably, employees will need to step away from work to tend to a personal matter, e.g., urgencies with a child, dog, personal issue, etc. This is your opportunity to show you care about them. And doing so pays big dividends in their appreciation toward a supervisor who understands.

Years ago, I learned the value of The Like Factor, which says: “If people like you, they’ll forgive just about anything you do wrong. If they don’t like you, you can hit everything right on the head and it won’t matter.”

Words to live by.

By tim brown
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