Create Connections

Shortcut #2 in 6 Shortcuts to Employee Engagement is “Create Connections”. This shortcut is a critical part of the leader’s role in engaging employees. As humans, we need to connect.

But the news is bleak when it comes to connecting…here are a just few of the findings from a survey which Cigna conducted of 20K+ U.S. adults:

  • Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone or left out.
  • One in four Americans rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.
  • Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful and that they are isolated from others.
  • One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people or feel like there are people they can talk to.

“The findings reinforce the social nature of humans and the importance of having communities. People who are less lonely are more likely to have regular, meaningful, in-person interactions; are in good overall physical and mental health; have achieved balance in daily activities; and are employed and have good relationships with their coworkers.”

What are you doing in your role to promote positive connections?

When I talk to leaders about Creating Connections, I hear about two types:

  1. Chance Connections
  2. Conscious Connections

Chance Connections

Chance Connections are those that are reactive in one way or another. Having an Open-Door Policy is an example. It’s good but doesn’t set a very high bar. Have you ever heard of an organization with a “Closed Door Policy”? Here’s what usually happens…you open your door and sit and wait (and mostly hope that no one stops by so that you can get your “real work” done uninterrupted – haha). It’s important to be accessible. So, keep your door open and understand that you are leaving the connection to chance.

The second type of Chance Connection is rounding. In this case, you are the interruption to the staff member. Staff are in the middle of their “real work” and you’re stopping by might be a welcome break or an annoying inconvenience. Don’t get me wrong, rounding is very important because not only do you make connections, you also get a visual of how things are going. Keep rounding with staff, just know that you are still leaving the connection to chance.

Conscious Connections

The most powerful kind of connection is a Conscious Connection – where both you and the team member are proactive and prepared. This happens in a One-on-One (1:1) Meeting (either virtually or in-person).

One question I routinely ask leaders in my client needs assessment is “What do you know you should be doing related to engagement and aren’t and why? I’ve asked this question to thousands of leaders and the number one thing they aren’t doing is meeting one-on-one with team members.

Many leaders struggle with making Conscious Connections.

The number one reason why they aren’t doing it is that “there isn’t enough time.” In follow up conversations, I hear the second reason it’s not happening is that there’s a perception that it’s not worth the time.

Of course, these two challenges go hand in hand. If you don’t think something is worth your time, then you aren’t going to make time for it.

Make Time for Meetings

Here’s one thing I know. Your actions and behaviors reflect your beliefs and mindsets. If you believe that meeting 1:1 with your direct reports is important – you will make the time.

Try these ideas:

  1. Identify your biggest time wasters (email, unnecessary meetings, distractions that are urgent but not important).
  2. Determine which time wasters you can eliminate to free up the time to spend with your team.
  3. Put Conscious Connections on your calendar. Stop thinking these meetings will happen on their own.
  4. Get creative for how to have 1:1 meetings using technology. FaceTime; Zoom and Go to Meeting are all ways to virtually meet with members of your team. Ask IT for help if you’re not familiar with what’s available.

Make the Meetings Worthwhile

What makes a 1:1 meeting so powerful is that both you and your direct report are prepared for the conversation. It’s a Conscious Connection. That alone adds to the value.

Try these ideas:

  1. Share your “Why” related to 1:1 meetings. Why are they important to you? Why will the employee benefit from them?
  2. Share the agenda in advance to give everyone a chance to think about it.
  3. Use the Satisfaction Snapshot ™ as a conversation starter. This tool is a powerful way to change the conversation about engagement…and who is responsible for it.

NOTE: You can download the sample 1:1 meeting agenda and Satisfaction Snapshot at

Now is the time to create Conscious Connections and positively impact engagement – yours and your team’s. Enjoy!

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