I promise you this, what your people want, more than anything else, whether they know it or not, more than money, or bonuses, or the next promotion is to FEEL connected to other human beings, to FEEL like there is someone who genuinely, deeply cares about them as a human being – THAT is what will drive up your performance, THAT is what will get you beyond 30% engagement levels, THAT will give you a competitive edge like no other, because you get this right, and you begin to unlock people in a way you could never imagine.
And this connection can be built up one conversation at a time – or NOT! What we find is that each and every interaction, every single interaction you have with your people really does count…………
I was running a workshop for a company recently and as the day went on the people in the room began the process of waking up to some of their behaviours, fears, and insecurities.
There was a young guy in the room, not long started with the business, and we were going around the room summarising what they learnt after the early afternoon session, he said something like:
“You know, I never know if I have done a good job or not, I’m always afraid that I haven’t quite done it how I should, or if I have made a mistake, I feel uncertain, and then I can beat myself up, I don’t tell anyone, I always feel like……perhaps I should be doing better, am I good enough?”
Now bear in mind, the room had been opening up slowly, and this young guy, shy, slightly more withdrawn, made the bold step of sharing himself, he made the courageous step of showing what he considers to be his weakness
The room went quiet
I said “who feels closer to Ben?”
Everyone put there hands up
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Then one chap piped up – “Its ok Ben, you do a great job, I think so anyway”
A few more followed suit
I stopped them
I said: “we must not diminish Ben’s truth, this is how he is experiencing his work every day, and we can tell him he is doing the physical aspects of his work ok right now, but can you see what is behind his truth?”
“He is expressing his fear and insecurity, in this case around his job”
I looked at Ben: “So what if you make a mistake Ben, what does that say about you?”
“NOTHING”, “It says nothing about your inherent worth as a human being, you WILL make mistakes, if you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t learning”
“We get to make mistakes guys, and it is important we express and acknowledge how we feel about our mistakes, not try and hide them, like so many people feel like they have to, all from a place of fear”, “So many people spend their whole lives hiding”
“So – next time you feel like this Ben, you walk up to your partner and tell them how you feel, and the role of the other person is not to diminish that, but to acknowledge how you are feeling, and then talk about how you can learn and grow from what you have done”
“This way, you no longer feel like you need to hide – never again do you need to hide what you perceive to be a “bad” job, you get to share the truth about how you feel, feel connected to, and cared for by another human being, learn, and grow”
How often have you said “It’s OK, don’t worry”, or “Your doing a great job, don’t worry” when someone shares their uncertainty or mistake – we actually diminish how they feel, and they then feel trapped, because in truth they just don’t believe us!!
Whereas when we look them right in the eyes and acknowledge their mistakes or uncertainty – “Yes you did make a mistake this time, but I care about you being able to learn from this, shall we talk about it?”
It can be such a subtle difference, but one creates and supports a connection between two human beings, and the other does the opposite.
If you simply applied this one technique each and every day, over time, you would begin to see very real changes in how your people interact with you.
For example – today, it’s almost a certainty that most people that work with you will hide their mistakes to a lesser or greater degree, no matter how large or small – they do this because they are afraid, and by following the above you begin the process of reducing their fears…………
Do you think high levels of engagement are created by an environment where people are scared to share their mistakes? No chance!
Try it, what do you have to loose? Right now, only 30% of people are engaged in the workplace, and have been for 5+ years – and if we want that to change we have to begin the process of doing things different.