Ten days ago I was in Melbourne getting ready to walk on stage at ConnectingUp’s annual conference to deliver the closing keynote. Delegates had spent three days learning how to ‘’Transform” their organisations using technology and best-practice.
Despite, or perhaps because of, three days talking about technology, the event manager and I decided the final presentation would be about creating connections – without using technology!
The irony of our increasingly connected world is that we – as individuals and as organisations – are becoming more disconnected than we ever have before.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent a lot of 2019 feeling overwhelmed. I feel like my life is being lived through one of the five screens I am in front of daily (phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, TV). The nature of my job – and of most of our jobs, means that technology is essential. But that doesn’t mean we need to be a slave to it. I don’t know about you, but I want to make some changes.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest technology, that we often forget the most important aspect of life – that we are all human and that people do business with people they know, like and trust. This is true regardless of the type of organisation you’re in.
I believe that human connection is the single most important element of life. Yeah, we need water, food and shelter, (Ok, so personally, I also become a bit uncomfortable if I go for too long without wifi and a charged phone – and yes, that’s definitely part of the overwhelm!), but without human connection, our souls wither and die.
When I recently read Gallup research saying only 13% of the workforce is engaged at work I was horrified. But then I thought about it. If we are disconnected from our family and friends, the people we love most in the world, then it makes perfect sense that we will also be disconnected from our colleagues and our workforce. And the impact this has on our productivity and profitability is profound.
An article in Harvard Business Review by Karyn Twaronite, tells us that when people feel like they belong at work, they are more productive, motivated, engaged and 3.5 times more likely to contribute to their fullest potential. It went on to say that people WANT to feel connected to those they work with. And we know that when people feel connected to others, they want to do good things for them. And yes, this definitely includes showing up to do the job they are being paid to do.
So how can we reconnect?
It’s often the most simple behaviours that have the biggest impact. How often do you say good morning? Or ask how your colleague’s weekend was? Or offer to do the chocolate or coffee or water run? Simple? Yes, it is. But I can tell you when I worked for a CEO who scurried in, head down, avoiding all eye contact each morning after morning, despite my best efforts to say hello, I did not feel valued. I most definitely was not engaged at work! And my work reflected this.
And what about in meetings? Or when you’re on a teleconference? Or out at lunch with colleagues? How often are you scrolling through your phone, checking Facebook, replying to emails or sending a cheeky text about the weekend? Instead of focusing on the other people in the room?
The way you connect with your team and colleagues plays a HUGE role in increasing your potential for engagement, productivity and growth.
What do you think might happen if you disconnect from your tech to start to reconnect with your people?
If you start saying good morning to your colleagues and asking them how they are – and then listening to the response…? If you focus on the person you’re talking to? If you leave your phone on your desk (and on silent) when you go to a meeting?
What if you turn off all the notifications on your phone? So you’re not constantly distracted by the beeps and the flashing lights whenever someone emails you or comments on your social media post?
I’m going to s p a c e at Byron Bay this weekend. One of the things I’m looking most forward to is disconnecting from technology for a few days. The out of office will go on my email and my phone will go into flight mode from Thursday lunch-time until Sunday night. Yes, I’ll occasionally check my email, and probably post a few jealousy-inducing photos on my socials, but I’ll be setting a limit for how much each day I spend online. And it’s unlikely to be for more than 30 minutes a day.
And if you’re wondering, yes, that’s going to push me a looooong way out of my comfort zone!
How will you disconnect to reconnect this week? I’d love to know.