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Building Connection Capital

I follow a lot of parenting psychologists on social media that tell us to set aside dedicated time each day for our children (individually) - No distractions. No screens. No siblings. Nothing else but child directed play. My good friend (or at least I like to think of her as my good friend because I am an avid vlog watcher of hers), Dr. Becky Kennedy, calls it building connection capital. This is supposed to help us when we ask kids to do things they don’t want to do, something that can strengthen our relationship with our kids. As a manager, I believe the principle of building connection capital is something that we should consider with our employees. 

Any manager will tell you that they often have to ask employees to do things they don’t want to do. Some employees will begrudgingly perform the task and others will outright defy the request - this is where connection capital might come in handy. I’m not talking about giving our employees 15 minutes a day to let them do whatever they want. I’m talking about setting up a weekly 1:1 with them, being involved in their professional lives (without micromanaging!), helping guide them down a path that will make them the best professional they can be and, if the relationship allows, gaining insight into their personal lives.

You might be cringing about that last point thinking to yourself, “My personal life is none of my boss’s business.” And you’re right. But guess what? Our personal lives impact our performance in our professional lives. When we build this connection capital, we open up the door to being able to support our employees during their time of need. We are able to anticipate, give them the necessary support and, more often than not, this brings our teams together in ways we never could have imagined.

But it’s importance is not just limited to its impact in the bad times. I often remind my readers that people want to feel a sense of belonging, they do not want to feel alone (especially when they are surrounded by thousands of people-filled cubicles). They want to feel included. You might be asking yourself how something as simple as a weekly 1:1 solves this problem. Let me show you how:

1. This provides an employee the opportunity to share what they are working on. They get to talk about their accomplishments and struggles while you gain insight into their project deliverables. 

2. They can ask questions or bring new ideas to the table. Not everyone feels comfortable addressing certain topics or expressing new ideas in a group setting for fear of what others will say. This allows them to privately discuss with you.

3. It offers your employee a sacred space to talk about where they want to go inside (or outside!) the organization. Listen. Reflect. Respond to how you can help them get there. What are their assets that make them a good candidate for the role in question and what weaknesses do they need to work on (and how!) in order to achieve that goal? 

4. You are a boss. You have a team. Setting up a weekly 1:1 with each team member lets them feel like they are a part of that team. It shows them that you are willing to take time to meet with them and that you care about their contributions to said team. 

I have heard so many people say, “Employees don’t leave jobs, they leave [bad] managers.”. It is so important to take the time to build connection capital to encourage that sense of belonging, build a trusting relationship with their manager, show employees their deliverables matter and that they are a vital part of the organization - You’ll need this when you ask them to do a mundane task or when things in the organization get rocky. Why? They will be more likely to stick by your side to see it through.

I hope that you find as much success in this as I have, and that this connection capital improves the bond you have with your team. I truly believe that happy employees will do the best that they can to see the project and company succeed. Wishing you and your organization the utmost success! 

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