The answer is that they have been able to build intimately interconnected companies, and in the process, have been able to unlock the most powerful form of capital an organisation has at its disposal: social capital.
And how have these companies been able to build and foster the intrinsic notion of connectedness and its resulting high levels of trust, reciprocity and cooperation while other companies flounder?
The answer lies in conscious effort and ongoing programs which cater to the personal and social cravings of all employees: to feel wanted, fulfilled, cared about, and listened to. While there is a long list of potential activities for catering to these needs, there are three sure - but previously-believed-to-be superfluous ways that all organisations can begin to build more interconnected companies; and these three things must be an integral part of every company’s DNA today.
Ongoing and frequent feedback
Most young people entering the workforce today face an alarming truth. For their whole lives before entering the workplace, they have received constant feedback. Ask Google anything - instant feedback. Text a friend - instant feedback. Ask Alexa - instant feedback.
Then, upon entering the workforce - silence. And the juxtaposition is irreconcilable. Employees don’t feel connected to or valued by their managers or organisation.
All employees value feedback and affirmation. Annual performance reviews are not going to cut it today. If you want to unlock the true potential of your employees, not least the millennials, tap into their insatiable desire for feedback. Tap into their desire to voice their thoughts and opinions and connect with other people. They will reward you.
Mentoring is an extension of and more intimate version of feedback that caters to more personal career and personal aspirations, in addition to company oriented goals.
It is a believed-in yet often forgotten and unformalised process. For something so critical to connecting employees to one another, and increasing employee fulfilment and development, it is too easily overlooked.
Organisations pay million of dollars per year in employee training programs and courses, and yet they leave their most rich source of explicit and tacit knowledge almost untapped.
You have an arsenal of employees who are eager to train, learn, and develop. And you have an arsenal of experienced employees who want to give back and learn themselves. Connecting these two parties is easier than ever with sophisticated mentoring software solutions, and will create the type of culture highly conducive to capturing social capital, as well as ensuring ongoing training and development.
Outings are an incredible way to foster social relations and employee relationships. Remember excursions as a kid? It was always so liberating getting away from the classroom and see people who you had pigeon holed in a whole new light. Outside-of-work interaction provides employees with a unique forum for connecting and a new lens for interacting.
The rise of the all-hands meetings - entire team get togethers that typically feature a rallying CEO presentation and the odd beverage and feast - is a great example of the power of outings. Startups swear by them, and use them as a tool for creating a close-knit workforce moving in a united direction.
Other less formal outings work just as well - including specific team outings. Don’t give up on your annual Christmas party or the engineering team beach day. Make them better; invite more people; make them more engaging. While they can be expensive, the price of not doing them is less quantifiable - but often more damning. Your employees won’t just have a fun day out of the office, they will carry their reinvigoration, new learnings, relationships and inspiration with them.
Empirical evidence suggests that culture has a glass ceiling of sorts; that at a certain point in a company’s lifecycle, culture and social capital fall by the wayside. But this doesn’t make much sense. As a company grows, it needs to put more effort into keeping people connected and aligned around a common set of goals.
The companies who have HR, people, culture, and development teams who do continue to foster social capital - who do continue investing in the connectedness of their organisations, continue to see unrivalled growth and success.
If you struggle convincing the C-suite of investing to build a more connected company - there are plenty of great case studies to draw from, see: Apple, Google, Netflix, Airbnb, Facebook, Zappos…
Interested in building a more interconnected company? See how we can help: mentorloop.com
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