Technology is the vehicle, not the answer
Across the first half of 2020, one of the biggest challenges in the business world has been how to keep a team engaged when we’re isolated from each other.
As our Melbourne friends have just entered their toughest period of lockdown yet, facing a demoralising six weeks of barely leaving their homes, this problem isn’t going away any time soon.
But, after months of endless Zoom meetings, Teams chats, online community forums and various other amazing pieces of communication and connection via technology, scheduling yet another online ‘standup’ could be the straw that breaks the camel’s will to live.
Humans are givers and connectors. We need to feel worthwhile and, especially at the moment when we are bombarded with endless sensational headlines filled with doom and gloom and horrific figures that are climbing in direct proportion to our collective anxiety, we need a reason to get up in the morning and do more than show up.
It’s easy to slip into feeling useless and full of despair during a situation that you simply have no control over, so engaging your team in your company’s purpose is now more important than ever.
By reminding them how their work can improve the lives of others or the greater community fills their innate need to contribute something positive. And don’t confuse your purpose with charitable giving. What your team needs is to see how the work they do directly improves the world. Trying to connect them to an intangible financial donation will have little meaning and no effect in bringing your people together and staying on track.
A great example of how simple and effective it can be to show your people the importance of their work, and the effect this has on team performance, is the approach Gerry Anderson, then President of DTE Energy, took just after the Great Recession in 2008 to engage his team.
During another period of history when uncertainty and despair were commonplace, he took a radical approach for the time and tapped into the organisation’s higher purpose, creating a video that showed staff at all levels and all capacities how their work positively impacted the well-being of the community.
The response, from all parts of the company, was an overwhelming appreciation for their work and led to the company’s leadership team dedicating themselves to incorporating purpose into onboarding, training and culture-building.
The outcome of this wasn’t just a happier, more engaged workforce. They received the Gallup Great Place to Work Award five years in a row and their stock more than tripled by the end of 2017. You can read more about his approach and discover a framework for using purpose to engage your team here.
By all means, make sure that you have tools and systems in place to connect your team and check in on their health and well-being but, connecting them to a sense that they are here for something bigger than themselves and that, even when all seems hopeless, the work they do matters is the answer they’re looking for.
If you would like to know more about communicating with and engaging your team around purpose, please get in touch.